Tokyo 2020: Men’s and women’s Olympic cycling time trial preview, route map and prediction
Ganna is the reigning world time trial champion
The men’s and women’s Olympic time trials take place on Wednesday morning as more road cycling gold medals are dished out at Tokyo 2020.
What TV channel is the race on and is there a live stream?
Action from the women’s and men’s time trials is due to be live on BBC1 and can be streamed live on the BBC iPlayer in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Eurosport will cover the race in its entirety on Eurosport 1, with a live stream on the Eurosport Player and via discovery+.
What does the course look like?
World champion Van der Breggen will be hoping to add Olympic gold to her collection
The course is a 22.1 kilometre circuit around the Fuji International Speedway. The women will do one lap of the circuit, while the men will complete two.
It is a hilly time trial course with several undulating sections designed to test the riders mettle in the ultimate physical and mental challenge against the clock. After around 10 kilometres of the circuit there is a ramp that nears 700 metres of climbing. It is these sort of sections which give the edge to the time trialists who can also get over the climbs efficiently.
Team GB will have two riders in the men’s event – Tao Geoghegen Hart and Geraint Thomas – and one in the women’s event – Anna Shackley.
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What time does it start?
The first women’s rider is due to set off at 3.30am BST on Wednesday morning, while the first rider in the men’s event is scheduled to roll down the ramp at 6am.
Who are the defending champions?
The defending champion in the men’s event is Fabian Cancellara, but the great Swiss rider will not defend his title in Tokyo. After a glittering career, he retired just two months after the Rio Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the reigning Olympic champion in the women’s time trial event is Kristin Armstrong. The American won her third successive Olympic gold in the discipline after coming out of retirement to triumph in Rio the day before her 43rd birthday. But she is now also retired and not competing in Tokyo.
Who are the favourites for gold?
Supreme all-rounder Wout van Aert is the favourite to take gold in the men’s time trial following his silver medal in the road race. Earlier this month, the 26-year-old Belgian became the first man in 42 years to win a bunch sprint, mountain stage and individual time trial all in the same Tour de France. Van Aert, a cyclo-cross star who has transitioned to the road, has the attributes which perfectly suit the Japanese course given his ability to climb.
But his main rival for the victory comes in the form of time trial specialist Filippo Ganna. The Italian world champion is undoubtedly the best pure time trialist in the world, however it remains to be seen whether he will be able to hang with the power of Van Aert on the uphill ramps.
Meanwhile, in the women’s race it is also likely to be a two-horse race between world time trial champion Anna van der Breggen and former rainbow jersey holder Chloe Dygert.
Dutch superstar Van der Breggen profited from Dygert crashing out of the world championships last year and will be hoping to build on her bronze medal in the time trial from Rio 2016. But Dygert proved in 2019 that on her day she can crush all of her rivals, as she demonstrated when she won the rainbow jersey, beating Van der Breggen by one minute and 32 seconds. It just depends whether the American has recovered from the laceration on her leg which she picked up in the crash at the world championships in September last year. The injury required surgery and led to a lengthy period out.
What about Team GB’s chances?
There are 39 riders in the men’s time trial event, with GB duo Geoghegen Hart and Thomas both involved. The hopes of Britain picking up a medal here are likely to rest on Thomas, who can post a very strong time trial on his day. With that said, having crashed in both the Tour de France and Olympic road race, he is not expected to be 100 per cent. Success for Thomas would probably be a top five finish, although he does have an outside chance of a medal. Geoghegen Hart should be looking for a top ten.
Of the 25 riders going in the women’s event, Shackley is one of the rank outsiders to win a medal in the time trial. The 20-year-old Scot will need to produce the performance of her life if she is to threaten the big names.
Men’s time trial: Wout van Aert
Women’s time trial: Anna van der Breggen
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