2020...2021 Olympic Women's Road Race, Tokyo, 137 KM

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The Dutch were clearly victims of their own (pre-race) success, as well as the arrogance problem that others have noted. When I tuned in, the break was 6-7 minutes up the road and peloton was expecting -- demanding, even -- that the team in orange take it up. This they failed to do in any meaningful way. No one else wanted to drag the Dutch to the finish, just as no one wanted drag Wout to the gold medal the day before.

Then AvV attacks and tries to bridge the gap. Not sure who the commentators were on the feed here in Canada, but, like the peloton, they assumed the Dutch woman would magically bridge a 6-minute gap. They predicted gold for her, with 50km to go. and they kept at it, even as the clock showed that she made almost no headway after trimming 1 minute or so. As the kms ticked down and the gap stayed the same, the writing was already on the wall for anyone willing to see.

IOW, there is plenty of blame to go around. It's a pity that a gutsy, "hard woman" ride by the actual winner has been obscured by this backstory. She had the pedigree, if not the media profile or the recent race results, and she rolled the dice and followed it up. I say, well done and great racing on her part.
 
To be fair Vollering is less one dimensional than Vos (these day at least)


It happens in boxing all the time ;)
The thing is, I don't know if it was loyalty to their charges, disquiet within the team or what, but they never wanted to commit anybody other than Demi to the chase, Demi isn't really a time trialist, certainly not compared to AVV and Anna VDB, and she's certainly not a "pull six minutes back on her own" time trialist. That's just not playing to her strengths, but with what happened in Rio I can't imagine the thought even crossed the mind of the DSes to have Annemiek and Anna ride to control the break for Demi, even if Anna's been willing to do that for SD Worx. Sure, it might have been smarter in retrospect to have brought van Dijk or Brand or Pieters as a workhorse instead, but the four women they took currently rank 1, 2, 4 and 6 on CQ, and 1, 2, 3 and 5 on the WWT. The lowest ranked on CQ is Vos, and the lowest ranked on the WWT is van der Breggen (no, really). Vollering currently leads the WWT, and with her wins in Liège and at La Course has won the last two high profile one-dayers on a similar kind of finishing profile. The most logical name to leave out would have been Vos on that basis, but even then she's the obvious best weapon in a sprint and she's only, you know, Marianne Vos. Then you have the problem that you're going to have competing goals because the only one of those that even the guys in the car thought was expendable was Demi, and that's probably more only because of the others having seniority over her. Other teams that don't have the same strength in depth could afford to take a rider or two who knew they were only there to be helpers but making it to the Olympics would be honour enough - but with the Dutch having such weapons in their arsenal, it's not like many other teams were going to commit to help the chase, especially given one of the key candidates to do so - the Poles - managed to circumvent that requirement by having Plichta in the break.
 
Watched the last 60km on replay, a weird race, but happy to see the Winner hold on even if I had never heard off her. If this is evidence of the benefits of having no radios, let's get it that way full time. People bang on about race safety, but was there less crashes in the Tour this year??? Of course not, so the safety angle is BS. Might help make sprint stages a little bit more interesting than worthless.

Also why so few women in the race?? Only 60-70 I think.
 
Sad to see what happened today, not good for woman cycling actually… but the winner deserves to win, very strong performance.
10 minutes for the break was way to many for such a route… so it’s everyone else mistake.
 
Jul 30, 2016
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It is quite embarrassing for a few people, not only for the riders but also for the people in the car and others who should have prepared the team and led out plans -and also for the organizers.

Anyway, embarrassing things happen in a lot of men's races, too, so why would they not happen in women's races?
They do in all races, but this race is basically the only televised and watched womens race. The only media attention is normally when Cecilie says something charming, without any mention of the race results.
Having a great race at the olympics means years of focus, now its back into the same category as synchronized diving; something for women who is just too inept to compete in a real sport and a fun bit to show after the news.
 
From a short overview the German media is very positive about the win, not that it's a big story, but the words are "sensational" and "she rode a tactically smart race", so not bad promotion for women's cycling at all. In general people love these kind of stories, because it's a story, unlike "favourite from the team of biggest favourites wins".
I tend to agree. I think it was a remarkable race that will stand out in the history of women's cycling. Anna Kiesenhofer did really well, and the Dutch team had already underestimated her early on, as they chose not to chase the breakaway more intensely as they did.

But in the last five kilometers, the Dutch - and some of the others in the group - had misunderstood the situation, and I think that's bad for how the viewers will perceive women's cycling (I'm with Uttrup Ludwig here).

The Austrian's win could have been a dramatic surprise, but as it developed, it just seemed odd.
 
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Pretty sure that has actually happened in hurling before but at least that is officially an amateur mistake in an amateur sport
We had a rugby match last season where the ref miscounted the score in his notebook, and told our captain, with a last-play penalty under the posts, we needed a try to win. After the game, and the failed attempts to get over, he checked the scores, and realized we were only down by 3.

But these are 2 different sports with different kinds of mathematics; doing 3 times and 5 times tables after an hour of chasing a ball and slamming into lads (with or without sticks) is hard, especially if there isn’t an official score keeper.

But when keeping score is a simple binary operation of “Anna is in first place, and everybody else isn’t,” especially when other riders in the race can’t actually see Anna at the time, there really should be a way to let the others know.
 
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They do in all races, but this race is basically the only televised and watched womens race. The only media attention is normally when Cecilie says something charming, without any mention of the race results.
Having a great race at the olympics means years of focus, now its back into the same category as synchronized diving; something for women who is just too inept to compete in a real sport and a fun bit to show after the news.
I don't think the level of the women's race at the Olympics has any real impact on the growth of women's cycling, I remember Kathy Watt winning in 92 I think, it was the only women's race you could watch even then, yet the sport never grew. The more recent increase in coverage has helped, but it is a niche sport and what happened today will have little impact on that.

Realistically, the only major women's sports with decent interest levels are Tennis and Athletics. Is it a coincidence that they can be inter-mixed with mens events? You simply cannot do that for many sports. Women's cycling is growing, but there needs to be realism as well.
 
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I don't think the level of the women's race at the Olympics has any real impact on the growth of women's cycling, I remember Kathy Watt winning in 92 I think, it was the only women's race you could watch even then, yet the sport never grew. The more recent increase in coverage has helped, but it is a niche sport and what happened today will have little impact on that.

Realistically, the only major women's sports with decent interest levels are Tennis and Athletics. Is it a coincidence that they can be inter-mixed with mens events? You simply cannot do that for many sports. Women's cycling is growing, but there needs to be realism as well.
Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon (if anything, the bogarting of most of the wins in the last decade in the men's competition and the concentration of the best talents into only a few nations among the men has meant women's biathlon is if anything more popular than men's) and speed-skating are worth mentioning as well.
 
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I saw images from the start of the race, when the breakaway went. All 4 dutch girls were in the front when that happened (literally right after the neutralization), so they could all have seen that 5 riders were in that breakaway.
 
Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon (if anything, the bogarting of most of the wins in the last decade in the men's competition and the concentration of the best talents into only a few nations among the men has meant women's biathlon is if anything more popular than men's) and speed-skating are worth mentioning as well.
It’s the big positive aspect of the Olympics. Sports where the Olympics are the central event almost always are closer to gender parity in attention and prestige. Medals are medals. Sports bodies fund potential medalists, Sponsors like potential medalists. National media covers potential medalists.

Tennis is the big outlier. The one major spectator sport, with its own traditions and audience and events which matter more within the sport than the Olympics, where the women get something approaching the respect accorded to the men’s side of the sport.
 
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Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon (if anything, the bogarting of most of the wins in the last decade in the men's competition and the concentration of the best talents into only a few nations among the men has meant women's biathlon is if anything more popular than men's) and speed-skating are worth mentioning as well.

No offence, but winter sports in themselves are a bit of a niche market. Maybe that is because I am not from a winter sports country, but to me they would pale in global reach relative to tennis or athletics.
 
Jul 23, 2019
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Well I am surely late to this discussion, but I was almost in tears watching Anna Keisenhofer win today.
The responsibility of giving of so much time to the break cannot solely lie with the Netherlands.
If the other nations wanted to chase they could have at any time
To my eyes, Keisenhofer was clearly completely on the limit of her powers at the end, and the way the gap was closing, looked as if she might even be caught in the last 3km or so.

She was the strongest rider, and won from a break, in a huge ride!
What could be more perfect!
 
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The thing is, I don't know if it was loyalty to their charges, disquiet within the team or what, but they never wanted to commit anybody other than Demi to the chase, Demi isn't really a time trialist, certainly not compared to AVV and Anna VDB, and she's certainly not a "pull six minutes back on her own" time trialist. That's just not playing to her strengths, but with what happened in Rio I can't imagine the thought even crossed the mind of the DSes to have Annemiek and Anna ride to control the break for Demi, even if Anna's been willing to do that for SD Worx. Sure, it might have been smarter in retrospect to have brought van Dijk or Brand or Pieters as a workhorse instead, but the four women they took currently rank 1, 2, 4 and 6 on CQ, and 1, 2, 3 and 5 on the WWT. The lowest ranked on CQ is Vos, and the lowest ranked on the WWT is van der Breggen (no, really). Vollering currently leads the WWT, and with her wins in Liège and at La Course has won the last two high profile one-dayers on a similar kind of finishing profile. The most logical name to leave out would have been Vos on that basis, but even then she's the obvious best weapon in a sprint and she's only, you know, Marianne Vos. Then you have the problem that you're going to have competing goals because the only one of those that even the guys in the car thought was expendable was Demi, and that's probably more only because of the others having seniority over her. Other teams that don't have the same strength in depth could afford to take a rider or two who knew they were only there to be helpers but making it to the Olympics would be honour enough - but with the Dutch having such weapons in their arsenal, it's not like many other teams were going to commit to help the chase, especially given one of the key candidates to do so - the Poles - managed to circumvent that requirement by having Plichta in the break.
Good points. For what it's worth after the fact, I think Marianne and Demi were not perhaps the best choices, especially giving me the focus on the event and the parcours. It seems somewhat predictable that other teams would expect the Dutch to chase, so having one to two riders who were good workers in that regard would have been important.

Of course it's all hindsight stuff now! If it had ended in a bunch sprint in my strategy would have looked stupid. And of course, I don't know what was going on behind the scenes.
 
No offence, but winter sports in themselves are a bit of a niche market. Maybe that is because I am not from a winter sports country, but to me they would pale in global reach relative to tennis or athletics.
Sure, but in many of their markets they are big business. Biathlon is one of the biggest TV sports in Germany, and in Russia the Nordic sports are some of the biggest TV sports events outside of football. The biggest discrepancies between men's and women's sport, I feel, are in team sports, which suffer from the need to have sufficient numbers to organise grass roots levels, and given that individual sports offer more prospective success in terms of both fame and earning potential to a prospective female athlete, team sports also suffer from not often being able to attract the elite athletic talents among women, who are more likely to gravitate to the sports like tennis or athletics (or in the relevant markets, the wintersports) where women's competition is best developed and offers the best sponsorship and earning potential.
 
Good points. For what it's worth after the fact, I think Marianne and Demi were not perhaps the best choices, especially giving me the focus on the event and the parcours. It seems somewhat predictable that other teams would expect the Dutch to chase, so having one to two riders who were good workers in that regard would have been important.

Of course it's all hindsight stuff now! If it had ended in a bunch sprint in my strategy would have looked stupid. And of course, I don't know what was going on behind the scenes.
I guess the problem for the Dutch even if they did commit to the chase would be similar to the men's OGRR in 2012; because Cav had won the final sprint in the Tour so decisively, pretty much nobody wanted to go to a sprint, and only Bernhard Eisel, doing mercenary work for trade teammates, assisted them until late on when the Germans did some half-hearted turns while Spain, Switzerland and others put half their squad in the break. It was exacerbated by the small startlist. I mean, the Dutch might have been keen to enlist some help to bring the break back, but I just wonder where they could have enlisted assistance from, looking at the other major medal contenders.

Italy had four riders and did have some helpers, but their problem was always going to be that ELB cannot sprint and would have to find a way to get alone, so needed the Dutch to be tired out enough that she could escape them. Poland had Niewiadoma, but they also had Plichta in the break so no responsibility to contribute until they brought that duo back with 5km to go ending the medal chances there. Denmark have Cille, but only 2 riders and Norsgaard had climbed off. Likewise GB, with Shackley climbing off and leaving Deignan alone. The US had 4, but Dygert is presumably targeting the TT, so a 2019-esque long-distance ride was less likely since at the Worlds the TT comes before the RR, and Rivera's best chance was always going to be the sprint. The Aussies had 4, but Spratt has been in horrible form lately and after Brown was dropped I don't think they thought highly of their chances. Germany had 4, but Brennauer was their best finisher and also the main rider they'd have likely wanted committed to the chase, in the absence of some of the TT-type riders like Klein from the team, and that would have entailed going 100% behind Liane, and given Lippert was dropped and Brennauer sprinted for 4th, it seems that might have been an on-the-fly decision if Liane wasn't feeling good.
 
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Tennis is the big outlier. The one major spectator sport, with its own traditions and audience and events which matter more within the sport than the Olympics, where the women get something approaching the respect accorded to the men’s side of the sport.
The assumption on that has to be that it’s the one sport where the men’s and women’s events are held concurrently. Since I was a kid, watching Wimbledon was always about watching Becker vs McEnroe in one match, and then Graf vs Navratilova the next.

It’s why it worries me when I hear the UCI/ASO saying the women’s Tour can’t be held same day/same routes as the men’s. It’s almost like they’re being set up to fail and not get the viewing numbers/clicks that they would if they were sharing podiums, finish lines and, most of all, coverage.
 
I wonder if Anna will get more congrats from people at her university than from people in the pro cycling ranks? Her ride today was spectacular.
How much support did Kristen Armstrong receive from the peleton when she appeared like a zephyr once every four years to win the ITT at the Olympics ? Actually, pre-Olympics she had team-members appealing her selection for the ITT - Anyway the winner may appear again at the Olympics in three years time BUT she will be relying on fellow Austrian's getting enough points for her to reappear, as it appears she has no interest in a professional career in cycling.
 
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I sense the Olympic spirit to be a little lacking.

I was happy for the underdog victory but a bit sad about the circumstances.

I'd like to thank the absurdly stacked Dutch team and their Warnockesque crying in the press for making me completely forget about any of that nonsense. Big props to the Austrian, a lot of note fumbling and hasty PCS visits going on at the end there.
I am sure if you watched what I did..a 100 pound woman w a 100 pound heart laying on the ground uncontrollably crying and sobbing from surprise and utter joy, there was no lacking of Olympic spirit in anything she did..

I have to wonder about sportsmanship..why all these women throwing shade at the race,themselves and their teammates, directors.
The basics,race route published plenty early. Even with the pandemic and whatever budget some recon was, or should have been done. With cell phones you can get a decent time split if you were not satisfied with the race officials reporting. All the bib numbers were published and could have been had @20 places on the internet..so if you want to know who the Austrian rider or the Israeli rider is up the road..you had\have Google and @3.5+-..
So why didn't Holland chase? Germany,Italy,the US? Even without constant ear fed tactics, some national clown from a car should have said..you and you..get up there and drive this thing..the Dutch,German and Spanish teams all had the horsepower,but not the will to bring back the breakaway.

I read a few of the comments..the one about the race being s%it,or comments about the resemblance of a Jr. race.. The comments sounded like from a disappointed teenager.
The women in the breakaway were awesome,put it all out there..nothing to hang their heads about..any descriptions of the race that don't include an all out guts,heart,everything effort by the breakaway are at the very least incomplete.
The only thing I was disappointed in was that Poland and Israel didn't medal.
I join Tim in forgetting about anything good the Dutch did
 
The assumption on that has to be that it’s the one sport where the men’s and women’s events are held concurrently. Since I was a kid, watching Wimbledon was always about watching Becker vs McEnroe in one match, and then Graf vs Navratilova the next.

It’s why it worries me when I hear the UCI/ASO saying the women’s Tour can’t be held same day/same routes as the men’s. It’s almost like they’re being set up to fail and not get the viewing numbers/clicks that they would if they were sharing podiums, finish lines and, most of all, coverage.
They are probably able to do it. But it is about money. It is always about that.
 
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I don't think the level of the women's race at the Olympics has any real impact on the growth of women's cycling, I remember Kathy Watt winning in 92 I think, it was the only women's race you could watch even then, yet the sport never grew. The more recent increase in coverage has helped, but it is a niche sport and what happened today will have little impact on that.

Realistically, the only major women's sports with decent interest levels are Tennis and Athletics. Is it a coincidence that they can be inter-mixed with mens events? You simply cannot do that for many sports. Women's cycling is growing, but there needs to be realism as well.
Kathy Watt's victory at the Olympics definitely had in impact in Australia - After all, it was Gerry Ryan's first foray into cycling sponsorship and he is still going strong thirty years later , while there were more cyclists men and women choosing cycling as a career.
 
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I didn't see the whole race but it was reported the initial break was more than three riders.

"Kiesenhofer, who lined up with no teammates, was part of an early-race move with Carla Oberholzer (South Africa), Vera Looser (Namibia), Omer Shapira (Israel), and Anna Plichta (Poland) that gained more than 10 minutes on the main field."

So it would be possible that some people did lose count because some of the chase was absorbed earlier. It's also understandable that the Dutch and others would be confused if time gaps were given to the chasers and not the leader. Clearly, it seemed, the Dutch were racing to that former possibility as they put all four up front when the gap was down to one minute. If they know it is four minutes with 30k, perhaps they ride differently.

Given they only had four riders, asking the Dutch to control the entire race is unrealistic. They had to save Vos and AVV, so even if they chase down Kiesenhofer at some point, other attacks are going to go up the road and people are going to be looking them to do all the chasing.

That's part of the deal when you're the best team or best rider. We saw what happened with Van Aert in the men's race. Sometimes the tactics don't work out right. Other teams bear some of the burden of this, however. They essentially raced for one medal after not helping control the gap.
 
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