The Austrian rider was thought-about a novice in comparison with her rivals, notably defending champion Anna van der Breggen, former Olympic bronze medalist Elisa Longo Borghini, Britain’s Lizzie Deignan, Germany’s Lisa Brennauer and former world title champion Annemiek van Vleuten.
But Kiesenhofer, who solely turned professional in 2017, wasn’t flustered by the world-class roster. Instead, she powered by way of the 147-kilometer course, battling blistering warmth and grueling humidity to safe Austria’s first biking Olympic gold medal since 1896.
“It was fairly excessive,” Kiesenhofer tells CNN Sport’s Coy Wire. “I’ve by no means emptied myself that a lot in my life, I just killed each single muscle firewall in my legs.”
If others had assumed Kiesenhofer was making up in the numbers in Sunday’s peloton, the 30-year-old Austrian definitely did not.
“There’s all the time this little hope, this little thought, yeah, I would win,” she says. “If I’m at the begin line, it means I’m ready, I need to win. But additionally, I do know realistically, I’m not imagined to win right here.”
She was half of a breakaway group from the very first second, nevertheless it was solely in the closing stretch that Kiesenhofer emerged as a darkish horse, going solo for the final 40 kilometers when she began “driving for gold.”
As it turned out, competing with out the weight of expectation helped Kiesenhofer maintain her composure as she completed the race in below 4 hours — 75 seconds forward of silver medalist Van Vleuten.
When the Austrian bicycle owner realized she’d received gold she threw her arms in the air earlier than staggering in direction of her crew, crying tears of pleasure in disbelief.
“It was unrealistic, as a result of no person would have believed it,” she says. “It was just unimaginable. I could not imagine it, even crossing the line I could not imagine it.”
As she went solo in these closing kilometers, Kiesenhofer says she was motivated by reminiscences of her family members, who had been dwelling each second of the race together with her again in Austria, the place they had been watching a livestream of the occasion.
“My household, I knew they had been watching, I visualized them,” she says. “I used to be pondering of them, of some previous coaches I had had, of buddies who had been my motivation.”
Even although her household aren’t “a lot into biking,” Kiesenhofer says that in the end, they just need her to be comfortable, even when which means preventing to beat the odds and turn into an Olympic champion.
“They do not know a lot about biking, the sport itself […] it is a huge motivation for me throughout a race, to know she’s watching, though she [mother] does not actually have a clue.”
A psychological edge
As an achieved educational turned Olympic gold medalist, Kiesenhofer says she has all the time marched to the beat of her personal drum.
She hasn’t been half of a professional biking crew since 2017, a choice she’s caught with of her personal volition.
Kiesenhofer acknowledges that she’s realized from previous coaches, however says that essentially, “It just did not match my character. I prefer to be impartial. I prefer to make my decisions like my coaching plan, my races and so forth. I’ve just this lonely fighter strategy.”
What she could lack in bodily assist, she definitely makes up through the use of her mental prowess.
Having earned a grasp’s diploma in arithmetic from the University of Cambridge, England and a PhD in utilized arithmetic from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Kiesenhofer meticulously plans her personal coaching, vitamin and race technique.
“As a mathematician you are used to fixing issues by yourself, in order that’s the method I strategy biking,” she says.
“Many cyclists are used to having folks that really do this for them […] I imply, they’ve a coach, they’ve a nutritionist, they’ve the man that plans the race for them,” she provides. I just do all these jobs myself.”
‘I dare to be totally different’
The key to her success? She’s not afraid to embrace the facets of her character that make her distinctive.
“I dare to be totally different. I’ve a totally different strategy and because of this I’m additionally unpredictable, and that is precisely what occurred yesterday,” she says. “People did not predict, folks did not suppose that I would win.”
She says she hopes her story can encourage others to, “not to surrender, to persevere […] do what fits your character.”
“You just need to comply with your instincts,” she provides.
Those instincts will see her honor a dedication to ship college lectures subsequent semester.
“I’ve heard from my colleagues,” she provides. “I do know that college students are all the time Googling the identify of the trainer. In the previous I had college students following my biking and wishing me luck once they knew a race was arising.”
Despite the newfound consideration of being an Olympic gold medal winner, Kiesenhofer insists she desires to take care of a life away from the highlight.
“I need to proceed dwelling the life I’m dwelling,” says Kiesenhofer, who cannot wait to see her household again in Austria.
“It would just be so good to see them. They do not care what’s hanging round my neck. It’s just me they like, me and never the Olympic gold medalist.”