Slovenian road cyclist blows away competition for gold in men's time trial

·3 min read
Gold medallist Primoz Roglic of Team Slovenia races during the men's individual time trial at Fuji International Speedway in Japan.  (Michael Steele/Getty Images - image credit)
Gold medallist Primoz Roglic of Team Slovenia races during the men's individual time trial at Fuji International Speedway in Japan. (Michael Steele/Getty Images - image credit)

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic won road cycling gold in the men's time trial, setting an astonishing mark at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan on Wednesday.

Roglic — who became the first Slovenian to win a Tour de France leg in 2017 — finished in an incredible 55 minutes 4.19 seconds.

It was over one minute faster than the time set by Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands, who won his second consecutive Olympic silver. The 2017 world champion raced to second place in Rio 2016 after fracturing his wrist.

Rohan Dennis of Australia claimed the bronze medal in 56:8.09.

Roglic said it didn't click in that he posted a gold-medal finish. The Slovenian said he was racing with nothing left to lose.

"I think probably I just didn't realise, I just went all in and I didn't care. For me, it was just giving 150 per cent, really everything, everything and at the end I was just super happy that I finally was finished, I was over the finish line and then the rest tell me how fast I was," Roglic said.

The best part, he said, was that he was in "one piece" and heading back home to his family. This gold was for them, he said.

Canada's Hugo Houle led for much of the event, but wound up in 13th at 57:56.46.

For a time, the 30-year-old from Ste-Perpétue, Que., sat in the hot seat, watching rider after rider chase his benchmark and ultimately fall short.

WATCH | Hugo Houle pleased with performance:

It wasn't until Belgium's Remco Evenepoel, the 2019 world silver medallist, crossed the finish line in a time that was 35.19 seconds faster than Houle that the Canadian was jostled down to second.

Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Dutch cyclist rides to gold and Rio redemption

Earlier, Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the women's individual time trial for her second medal at these Games. Just two days ago, she captured silver during a confusing finish during the women's road race.

The Dutch rider celebrated prematurely, thinking she in fact finished in first — but now van Vleuten has a gold of her own.

The two-time world champion completed an aggressive ride to finish the 22.1-kilometre course in a time of 30 minutes 13.49 seconds. As she watched the last racers cross the line, van Vleuten pumped her arms in the air with certainty.

"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," she said.

Swiss rider Marlen Reusser raced to silver with a time of 31:09.96, while reigning world champion Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands captured bronze at 31:15.12.

Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Tim de Waele/Getty Images

It was redemption for van Vleuten, who suffered a crash in the road race of Rio 2016 and ended with three lumbar spinal fractures and a severe concussion. She couldn't compete in the individual time trial because of her injuries, instead winding up in the hospital.

The cyclist said she felt in good shape coming out of this year's road race.

As she flew through the time trial, van Vleuten said she wasn't thinking about the pain in her legs — she just kept pushing forward.

"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...extra beautiful," she said.

American Kristin Armstrong, who won the past three Olympic golds in the road cycling event, had retired, clearing the way for a new champion.

Canadian Leah Kirchmann of Winnipeg, Man., finished in 12th with a of 33 minutes 7.97 seconds. Karol-Ann Canuel, of Amos, Que., was two spots behind her, completing the race in 33:07:9

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