'This is the heaviest medal I've ever had': Kiesenhofer still in disbelief after Tokyo Olympics gold

Kiesenhofer is an amateur rider with a Mathematics PhD, and now also has an Olympic gold medal

Anna Kiesenhofer
(Image credit: Getty)

Anna Kiesenhofer had always thought to attack from the off in the Tokyo Olympics women's road race, what she likely hadn't planned for, however, was to stay away all day and cross the line first to take gold.

“It’s incredible, I couldn’t believe it, even when I crossed the line. I planned to attack at kilometre zero and I was happy I could get in front," Kiesenhofer said after her stunning victory. "That is something I could not take for granted because I am not good at riding in the peloton."

Kiesenhofer is currently an amateur, although you assume if she wanted to turn pro now a number of teams will now be knocking down her door to try and acquire her signature. She has also studied at Cambridge University, and completed her PhD in Mathematics in Catalonia, currently working as a researcher and teacher at the University of Lausanne.

She also has pedigree on the bike, of course, despite the surprise of her taking the gold, having won atop Mont Ventoux in the 2016 Tour de l'Ardèche.

>>> Dutch riders thought they were racing for gold in Tokyo Olympics women's road race

"I am happy that I was not too scared and I just went for it," Kiesenhofer continued. "I attacked and with the group we worked more or less together — it was helpful to have a group. I saw I was the strongest and I knew I had the climb before the long descent. I’m pretty good at descending so I got some more time and then it was just like a time trial to the finish."

While some will focus on the Dutch team's protestations that they didn't know Kiesenhofer was still off the front after they'd brought Omer Shapira (Israel) and Anna Plitcha (Poland) back into the fold, Annemiek van Vleuten then launching up the road, Kiesenhofer did pick exactly the right moment to attack her former breakaway collaborators and steal a march up the road.

"It's still hard to comprehend. If you are told more and more in interviews that you are an Olympic champion, you somehow start to realise it more and more. I think this is the heaviest medal I've ever had around my neck," she said.

"It was only when I crossed the finish line that I realised what I had achieved. Until then I was on the limit. Many people have made sacrifices for my cycling career. I am very happy that I can give something back with this medal. I'm not aiming for a professional career on the road, but I would like to continue to commit to the time trial."

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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.