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18 Aug 2004
Athens 2004

Zijlaard-van Moorsel takes road to recovery

Dutch cyclist Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel had been the star of the women’s road cycling events in Sydney four years earlier, winning three gold medals. However, she got off to a disastrous start in Athens, crashing out of the road race, when she came off her bike and had to be treated for mild concussion. Despite the injury, she decided to persevere and was back in the saddle three days later for the women’s time trial, in which she was also the reigning Olympic champion. This time she was determined there would be no mishaps. Following a lightning quick start, she set a pace that none of her rivals could match.

By the halfway point of the 24km course it was already clear that she was going to retain her title. Zijlaard-van Moorsel's split time was 23 seconds ahead of anyone else and she showed no signs of letting up. By the time she crossed the line for a time of 31 minutes 11.53 seconds she was 24 seconds clear of the USA’s Dede Demet-Barry.

The win gave Zijlaard-van Moorsel her fourth gold medal, which made her the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history. A few days later she added a bronze in the 3,000m individual pursuit, a race in which all three medallists broke the world record.

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