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Tokyo Olympics: How Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer went from Cambridge University Cycling Club to women’s road race gold

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Former Cambridge University student Anna Kiesenhofer produced one of the stories of the Olympics so far by winning the women's road race in Tokyo.

The 30-year-old Austrian produced a brilliant performance to strike gold in Japan, and along that route to be the best in the world was time in Cambridge.

Kiesenhofer did her master's degree in mathematics at Emmanuel College in 2011-12, and was an active member of both Cambridge University Cycling Club and the Cambridge University Triathlon Club.

She helped Cambridge to victory in the Varsity Match 25-mile time trial alongside future Commonwealth Games Gold Coast bronze medallist Hayley Simmonds and Sarah Gallagher, and also partnered with Simmonds to place second in the women's team event in the British Universities & Colleges Sport 25-mile time trial in 2013.

But at the BUCS 10-mile time trial championships in 2012, representing the Light Blues, Kiesenhofer was 32 out of 32 as part of a Cambridge squad that also featured Simmonds, Ironman triathlete and double European duathlon champion Lucy Gossage and Anna Railton.

Kiesenhofer also competed in the Varsity Duathlon Championships in 2012, finishing second, but then opted to concentrate on cycling.

Fast forward nine years, and Kiesenhofer is not just the talk of the cycling world but the sporting world.

Kiesenhofer, currently working as a researcher and teacher at the University of Lausanne, was the first rider to attack in the Olympic road race, forming a breakaway group with South Africa's Carla Oberholzer, Israel's Omer Shapira, Namibia's Vera Looser and Poland's Anna Plichta which reached a gap of about 11 minutes.

Having dropped two of the riders with 86km to go, Kiesenhofer then made a break from Shapira and Plichta, and rode on her own, in time-trial style, for the remaining 40km.

The peloton caught Shapira and Plichta, leading them to believe that they were racing as a group for the gold medal, unaware Kiesenhofer had gone it alone to win by 1min 15sec.

But such was the nature of the race, that as silver medalist the Netherlands' Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line, she celebrated as if the gold was hers, not knowing that Kiesenhofer had already secured victory.

“I planned to attack at kilometre zero and I was happy I could get in front. That is something I could not take for granted because I am not good at riding in the peloton," said Kiesenhofer.

“I am happy that I was not too scared and I just went for it. 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.

“It feels incredible. I couldn't believe it. Even when I crossed the line, it was like, 'Is it done now? Do I have to continue riding?' Incredible."

It was a win that was well received at her alma mater, and by former team-mates.

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