A time trial paced to perfection delivered Primoz Roglic to Olympic gold by more than a minute on Wednesday. After abandoning the Tour de France with injury, the victory is as big a bounce back as the Slovenian could have hoped for.
It was a race of redemption in more ways than one. Tom Dumoulin, who almost gave up on cycling entirely at the start of the year, returned to top level competition to take his second consecutive silver medal in the Olympics.
Rohan Dennis, a rider who has had something of a turbulent career himself, was the bronze medallist, and ought to feel very satisfied with his performance and the result.
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The individuals who will feel most disappointed with his result are Stefan Kung and Filippo Ganna. The Swiss rider put in the ride of his life, against specialists at the top of their games, and was a mere 0.4 seconds away from third place, while pre-race favourite Ganna could only muster fifth.
The race was divided into three parts, to ensure there wouldn’t be too many on the course at any one time. The first wave of riders contained the unlikelies, including Syrian Ahmad Badreddin Wais riding for the Olympic Refugee Team. Of these, Canada’s Hugo Houle set the benchmark, with 57.56. It was a time that looked increasingly impressive, as rider after rider in the second wave failed to beat it. After a good stint in the hot seat, when the dust had settled he finished in a more than respectable 13th place.
But it was the riders in the third wave that we were waiting for. The Geraints, the Wouts, the Remcos.

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Neither of the Belgians lived up to expectations. Although Evenepoel was able to dislodge Houle at the top of the standings, it wasn’t by much. He was soon pushed aside by Colombian, Rigoberto Uran.
Wout Van Aert appeared to have suffered for the amount of work he invested into Saturday’s road race as much as Roglic benefitted from knocking his effort on the head early. Van Aert rode well in the time trial, but could manage no better than sixth, having gone from ten seconds behind to almost a minute back in the space of ten kilometres in the second half of the race.
Which was exactly where Roglic won it. By the first intermediate split, at the top of the climb, which was steeper and more challenging than many had anticipated, he rode within himself. In second place at that point, by the end of the first circuit, he was leading, but it was close. Only eight seconds separated him from Dumoulin and Ganna, with fifth place a mere five more behind. At that point, with swings and fades and surges perfectly possible, it was impossible to say who was going to take gold. No one expected Roglic to do what he did next.
Ten kilometres later, after he had completed his second ascent of the hill, a modest lead had almost quadrupled into an monumental one. With as many as six riders in the mix for the silver and bronze medals, it was anyone’s guess as to whose necks they would end up around. In the end second to fifth places were separated by just five seconds.

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While it was two Jumbo Visma riders who took top billing at day’s end, before it began all the talk had been of Team Ineos’s Italian star. The pre-race favourite, although fastest at the first intermediate split, faded towards the finish. His thoughts will now turn to the track, as he rides in the team pursuit next week.
This day belongs to Primoz Roglic, Olympic champion. Just when you think he’s out, he pulls himself back in.
The Slovenian overpowered the field to come home in 56:05.58 and banish memories of his haunting time trial collapse at last year’s Tour de France. Roglic had a healthy lead heading into the Tour’s final competitive stage in 2020, but ran out of gas as compatriot Tadej Pogacar stormed to a shock win.

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Nick Christian
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