There were also upsets in the tennis, with Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty knocked out, and the taekwondo where Britain’s two-time champion Jade Jones lost in the first round.
Even favourite Simone Biles was wobbly in gymnastics qualifying, while golf was robbed of two leading players through positive Covid-19 tests and defending tennis champion Andy Murray pulled out of the men’s singles.
But the biggest shock of the day must surely have been for Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten, who celebrated when she crossed the line thinking she had won gold only to discover she was in fact second.
Amid all the surprises, there was the reassuring return to action of Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and it was more about thrills as skateboarding and surfing made their Olympic debuts.
Hundreds of fans came out in the sun to gather along the streets of Fuchu, on the outskirts of Tokyo, to catch a glimpse of the women’s cycling road race, going against official advice to avoid gathering because of the pandemic.
What they witnessed was remarkable as 30-year-old Kiesenhofer – who is not part of a professional cycling team and was making her Games debut – became the first Austrian to win an Olympic road race medal after a devastating solo breakaway.
She was at the front of the race from the start, one of an early breakaway pack, before going it alone with 40km to go.
So great was Kiesenhofer’s advantage that Van Vleuten did not realise someone had beaten her to the finish, with the Dutchwoman initially celebrating before exclaiming: “I was wrong”.
Earlier, there had been a huge upset at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where 18-year-old Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui finished ahead of the Australian and American favourites to win the 400m freestyle. He said he was surprised to have even made the final that even when he touched the wall, he did not immediately “accept” he had won although it was a dream come true. (Agencies)