'The 22 kilometres passed by like one second,' says Van Vleuten as she upgrades silver for gold in Tokyo

The Dutchwoman put the road race behind her as she soared to Olympic glory

Annemiek van Vleuten
(Image credit: Getty)

While her Tokyo Olympics road race was defined by the uncertainty over whether she was racing for silver or gold, there was no mistake in the time trial, as Annemiek Van Vleuten dominated to take the title.

No one even came close as the 38-year-old finished 56 seconds clear of Switzerland's Marlen Reusser, while Dutch team-mate Anna van der Breggen took bronze, a further six seconds in arrears.

"No matter the result, I think after I passed the finish line, I knew I had left nothing there. I was in the flow, I was in the zone, and that's usually the feeling I want to have," Van Vleuten said after the finish.

"The 22 kilometres passed by like one second, you're in the flow. I was not thinking about the pain in my legs, I was just pushing, I did everything."

Van Vleuten put her performance down to not only her imperiously strong legs but also having the right equipment, which is accumulated thanks to the hard work of the Dutch national team.

>>> Annemiek van Vleuten makes no mistake as she powers to Tokyo 2020 Olympic time trial gold medal

"Also, it starts way before here - choosing the right team, choosing the right material, working really hard with the mechanic of the Dutch national team. I have to say he's also a big part in this victory, to choose the right material, do a lot of aero testing, also with the national team.

"So it looks like a one-sportsperson performance but it's really a team performance. It starts years before."

Van Vleuten says that despite the commotion after the road race where she celebrated thinking she'd won gold but had in fact taken the silver medal after Anna Kiesenhofer was still up the road, the Dutchwoman knew she was in optimum shape and could challenge for gold in the TT.

"I knew after the road race that I was in really good shape, and no-one believed. They were talking about different stuff but not about my performance, but in my heart I knew that my preparation had been optimal and that I was in really good shape here," she said.

"If you know that you're really close to the gold sometimes you tend to think only about the mistakes you can make on this quite technical course, about the corners, about if it starts to rain or it's slippery, or that you make a mistake.

"But I was in a good flow today and I was not thinking about mistakes. I was turning it around, like, 'Where can I gain time?"

At 38, Van Vleuten continues to defy conventional wisdom as she wins the first Olympic medals of her career, and says she's not done just yet.

"I think it will sink in tonight maybe, not at the moment. My story started in Rio but the story has not ended yet, because I will not stop. But this is really beautiful. It makes it extra beautiful."

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.