Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds raced away to gold with a confident final loop breakaway in women’s cross-country cycling.
Rissveds was in a two-way battle with Maja Wloszczowska of Poland as the bell rang for the final circuit of the rolling 4.8km course but broke her resistance with a powerful attack. The Swedish rider pulled away quickly, smoothly tackling the challenging Rio Rocks and Flip Flop sections of the layout before sprinting to the finish line. She finished 37 seconds ahead of Wloszczowska.
“At the start line today, I tried to focus and have some great fun, stay cool and just race my bike. This is for sure the biggest achievement in my career. It’s just unbelievable. At one moment, I thought if I stay cool, in the worst case, I can finish second, but I thought, I have to go for the gold! And I got the gold medal,” Rissveds, the reigning U23 world champion, said.
Wloszczowska hung on for the silver with Canada’s Catharine Pendrel in the bronze-medal position. The Pole, who also won silver in Beijing, said: “Before the race, I was counting 13 girls who could win, so to be on the podium I am just so happy. It was an incredibly hard race, and I felt very strong right from the start. I expected Jenny and Jolanda Neff of Switzerland to be really strong and at the beginning I felt like I was a little bit better than the others but Jenny attacked and I was really suffering.”
Canadian Pendrel fought her way to bronze despite experiencing technical difficulties: “I feel amazing right now. I had a crash on the start loop, and I was fighting through traffic, and then I had a mechanical in lap one, and I felt like things were not going my way. I just kept fighting through, and it paid off in the end. I’m just so happy that it came together on the day.”
Rissveds was the youngest rider on the course that included seven world champions. Her victory was the second gold for Sweden in Rio, following swimmer Sarah Sjostrom's win in the 100m butterfly.