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The Polish star of women cycling was just 22 years old when she competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Talking to Cyclingnews, Niewiadoma explained how much has changed since then and what are her feelings and motivations now as she pursues a medal in the elite women’s road race in Tokyo.

“As a person, I am a different human being now. I was only 22 in Rio and naive, listened too much to what others were saying about me, and took things personally. When I did interviews, [the press] told me that I would get a medal in Rio. It was a statement, not a question. I remember feeling a huge amount of pressure and fear of everything.”

“Now I know that there are two scenarios – success or failure – and both of those scenarios are OK. I will not die if I don’t win a race. I’m calmer and more mature. Maturity helps when it comes to major events.”

Physically, Niewiadoma feels more prepared than last time. She’s focused on resting and keeping the form as it is.

“I’m ready, hungry for racing and winning. Anything is possible, and I dream about the big results.”

However, her opponents are ready as well. The Dutch look especially strong. Their four-rider team includes the defending champion Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos and Demi Vollering.

“It’s difficult because Holland has four riders who can win. We have no choice but to try to challenge them. We need to focus on our strong points and use them in a way that we can create a perfect scenario for our team.”

Niewiadoma will line up with two teammates from Poland – Anna Plichta and Marta Lach.

Do you think Kasia will win?

The elite women’s road race will happen on July 25. The riders will start from Musashinonomori Park and end at the Fuji International Speedway. The women’s course will not go over Mt. Fuji like the men’s but will include climbs over Donushi Road and Kagosaka Pass. It will be 137 km long and there will be 2,692 metres of elevation gain.