The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is just a year away and anticipation is building for both athletes and fans. This means the world’s top cyclists are hard at work to make it to the quadrennial showpiece. With that in mind, 5 female cyclists have been identified to keep an eye on in the coming Olympic Games.
Valente is one of Team USA’s best, and she is hard at work to make it to next year’s Olympics. As if to prove her readiness for the sport’s biggest stage, Valente earned gold medals at the 2018 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships. She won the Points Race, Scratch Race, Madison (with Christina Birch), and International Omnium. If all goes according to plan Valente will add to her team pursuit silver medal she won it at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with teammates Sarah Hammer, Kelly Catlin, and Chloe Dygert.
A couple of years ago, Britain’s Laura Kenny had to take a bit of a break from the sport. But she is back now, as she promised, and has her sights set on Tokyo. In fact, making the 2020 Olympics is Kenny’s sole focus. She even missed out on the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. The Independent reports how Kenny made the decision to withdraw with an eye on Tokyo next year. Competing in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships and performing poorly would’ve negatively impacted Kenny’s chances of making the 2020 Olympics. A third Olympics would mean another chance for Kenny to build on her already impressive Olympic legacy. Coral reports how Kenny is one of Britain’s most iconic sport stars due to her winning four Olympic gold medals. She won gold in the team pursuit and omnium at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. A third golden double is certainly on the table for the 26-year-old, who seems to be returning to her Olympic form once more.
Australia’s Spratt also competed in both the London and Rio Olympics. But she has no medals to show for it just yet. The 31-year-old Australian is looking to rewrite that narrative, though. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics looms large for Spratt, who admits to thinking about it “almost every day.” If she makes it to Tokyo she will be riding a wave of momentum, as she just had a hugely successful 2018. Last year, she won the second straight Tour Down Under, as well a World Championship silver medal. She even won a stage in the iconic Giro Rosa. An Olympic medal would be the perfect addition to a great career.
Anna van der Breggen
The Dutch cycling team is an elite group of cyclists, and one of their stars is Van der Breggen. The 29-year-old is a veteran of the 2016 Olympics, where she won gold in the women’s road race and bronze in the women’s time trial. Next year she’ll look to add to her Olympic medal haul, and she looks poised to do so. Van der Breggen won the road race in last year’s UCI Road World Championships, then added May’s Tour of California to her already impressive list of accomplishments. With this form she looks set to add another Olympic medal to her collection.
In a comprehensive feature on transgender cyclists, USA Today predicts that the Tokyo Olympics will feature the first publicly-out transgender. That athlete might be Bearden. She is the founder of the Trans National Women’s Cycling Team, and a pro-level cyclist, too. As such, she stands a reasonable chance of making Team USA’s cycling team for next year. If so, it would be validation for Bearden. Four years ago she volunteered to be the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) “scientific test subject.” She provided the IOC before-and-after performance data, which the committee used in crafting guidelines for trans athletes’ participation in the Olympics. Years later Bearden could finally reap the rewards of her sacrifices.