Crystal Lane-Wright stepped into the women C4-5 road race with two Paralympic silver medals in her pocket and 79.2 kilometers (49.2 miles) away from perhaps a third.
Lane-Wright pushed through heavy rains and a final battle among the top 5 to end up with her silver medal in three events in these Games in 2:21:58 — a rare hat trick. She also matches fellow Briton Lee Pearson for the most medals won by a member of Team LGBTQ in Tokyo.
She finished 7 seconds away from an elusive gold and, for third consecutive head-to-head event, behind British teammate Dame Sarah Storey. The win made Storey the winningest British Paralympian ever with a record 17th Paralympic gold medal.
The rain-soaked race began with the leading contenders going directly to the front from the start of six laps around a 13.2-mile circuit in and around Fuji International Speedway. Lane-Wright and Storey stayed close to each other throughout the race, Lane-Wright running as high as third through the first four laps.
The first breakaway of the race came at lap two as Germany’s Kerstin Brachtendorf “just slipped away” as Lane-Wright told the Guardian after the race. Brachtendorf stretched her lead to as large as 75 seconds as the race entered the penultimate lap, and that is when Storey began to push with Lane-Wright following along.
By the start of the final lap, Storey had pulled a four-bike train back to Brachtendorf’s rear wheel. Storey pushed past with Lane-Wright following as the course pressed uphill. From there she stayed close, but decided not to press an attack on Storey as the race entered the main start-finish straightaway at Fuji.
Lane-Wright stood down and Storey extended the advantage to win.
Lane-Wright told the UK’s Channel Four after the race that she made the sporting decision to not attack Storey toward to final kilometer with the finish in sight.
“I have some morals,” Lane-Wright said. “That’s just not the done thing. If I’d done all the work on the front then it’s different, but I’ve done no work. I told her it was her race. I also had no legs.”
For Lane-Wright, the effort concluded her most successful Paralympics yet. In her debut in London in 2012, she didn’t medal at all. In Rio in 2016, she came home with a single bronze in the road race.