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BRUGES, Belgium (VN) – Anna Kiesenhofer’s world championships time trial was blighted by technical problems.
The Olympic road race champion had to ride with a damaged fork after a poorly fitted expander plug came loose during training in the days leading up to the competition. As well as causing damage to her fork, the incident nearly caused her to crash.
She didn’t have a replacement and had to resort to appealing on social media for spare parts to help her get on the road. It was only when another federation stepped in to help that she was able to ride.
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In the end, Kiesenhofer finished in 17th place at almost three minutes behind the winner Ellen van Dijk.
“The mechanic who did the bike didn’t tighten the expander properly. It came loose twice, two days ago, and I thought it was just the stem that wasn’t tightened properly but then it came loose again, and it was really bad,” Kiesenhofer said after finishing. “I almost crashed, and it damaged my fork a bit so I wasn’t sure if my fork would still hold up. In the end, we just fitted a different expander. During the race, I was scared that my bike would not hold up, but it did.
“My federation joined forces with the German mechanics, and we changed the expander. It’s temporary and I need a fork in the long run. The carbon looks a bit scary.”
Despite being more of a climber, Kiesenhofer believed that she could go well on the pan-flat power course. However, the rigmarole around her components and the concerns around whether the fork would hold out meant she could not focus on the event properly.
“I do like flat courses, despite being a small rider, especially if it’s long straight roads because it is a mental game where you have to really hurt, but today, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it because I was a bit distracted. So, exactly my strength the mental game I couldn’t pull it off,” Kiesenhofer said.
The world championships time trial is Kiesenhofer’s second UCI event since winning a surprise gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She rode to seventh place in the time trial at the recent European championships.
The title of Olympic champion has brought her a lot of attention whenever she does race and there are now far more photo and autograph requests, even from one of the members of the Pakistan team who waited patiently in the mixed zone to take a picture with the Austrian.
“It’s nice, though I think that today I wasn’t so friendly with people because I was so stressed with last-minute problems. People were asking me for photos, and I was like, oh no. It can be a bit stressful as well,” she said.
Since returning from Tokyo, Kiesenhofer has had to learn to balance the increased attention she’s getting from fans, sponsors, and the media. She’s also had to return to work at the University of Lausanne, though she has reduced some of her commitments.
While she’d like to ride her bike a bit more, she mostly misses being able to do math as much as she could before.
“I would have liked a bit more time. I have other things to do now that are not riding, in terms of management, sponsors, and so on,” she said. “I have all those things to do instead of math, which is a bit of a pity. I would have more time but for time trialing, I don’t see the point in riding 25 hours. If you do a 40-minute race, then you don’t need six-hour rides.”
Kiesenhofer is still deciding exactly what she wants to do next in terms of her riding and racing, she has a few plans forming, including Gran Fondos and local time trials with her boyfriend.
“It’s still a bit of a secret until I have figured it out myself. I will do some time trialing and some of my secret projects, which are not so secret really, and maybe some hobby races. I really like Gran Fondos and stuff like that, it’s something I have always loved,” Kiesenhofer explained.
“I’m looking forward to doing some local races in Switzerland, we have some local time trials, and I will do those with my boyfriend. Then I will do the Chrono des Nations, that’s the last UCI race.”