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Olympic Games, Beijing, 2008



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Time Trial

Individual TT  23.5km

Race Writeup

Kristin Armstrong (USA) has become Olympic TT Champion. She started towards the end of the list of starters and finished in 34 minutes 51 seconds. Second was Emma Pooley (GBR), 35 minutes 16 seconds and third, Armstrong's professional team team-mate at Cervelo Lifeforce, Karin Thürig (Switzerland) 35 minutes 50 seconds. 

Jeannie Long-Ciprelli (France) was fourth, just missing the podium in her eighth Olympics Games.


The race in detail

American Kristin Armstrong won the Olympic Time Trial event in a time of 34 minutes 51.72 seconds ahead of her nearest rival the tiny British Dynamo Emma Pooley, who had held first place for most of the event. The past World Champion and Swiss Time Trial champion and Armstrong's professional team team-mate at Cervelo Lifeforce, Karin Thürig finishing in third, repeating the bronze medal that she received in Athens. Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli the incredible French woman in her 7th Olympics finished 4th.  

The course of the Individual Time Trial was a tough undulating 23.8 km circuit covering the road circuit between the Great Wall sections of Badaling and Juyongguan. There were 25 starters for the event represented by seventeen different nations. The advantage for a country medal had to go however to the eight countries that had qualified two riders, while all the remaining only had one. Those lucky eight were host nation China, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and the USA. Karin Thürig the Swiss Time Trial champion was the only one of the Athens podium, to be involved in the Beijing event, although there were a number of riders who had represented their country in Athens and were back in Beijing, including Christine Thorburn (USA) who finished 4th in Athens. 

It was not easy, prior to the start of the Time Trial, to pick favourite for the medals with a number of top riders in contention for the Gold medal in great form.  There were at least 10 riders who could feature in the gold medal spot, including the German team of the current World Time Trial Champion Hanka Kupfernagel and Judith Arndt, the Swiss team of Thürig and Doppmann who are part of the very successful Time Trialing team of Cervelo Lifeforce and team mate Christiane Soeder, the Austrian time trial champion, who tried to make amends for missing out on a medal in the road race.  The two Americans Armstrong and Christine Thorburn certainly had strength to ride well. The 49 year old Jeannie Logo-Ciprelli had surprised everyone with her form in the road race and certainly put herself in contention for the time trial.  

The weather was much more favourable for the riders, compared to the conditions they experienced during the road race. It was dry albeit still a little misty with a small tail wind on the way out to the climb and a light head wind on the down hill run into the finish. The course definitely favoured the riders who could climb as well as power-descend well.  

Alex Wrubleski the Canadian Road Race champion was the first to start and never really challenged the top riders. Marianne Vos, the Dutch cycling superstar had fought to get a start in the time trial event, but seemed to struggle to maintain speed on the hill section of the course. She was 12th fastest at the 10km point and finished 14th. 

Judith Arndt (Germany) did not get a great start and seemed to be struggling for fresh form after the huge effort that she had put in during the Road race to try to bring the break back. Arndt was 9th at the 10km point but her great descending skills moved her into 6th place overall.  

Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli has represented France in seven Olympics, she never stops surprising the younger riders and her time trial performance was one of those occasions. The current French TT champion posted a third fasted time at 10km only 23 seconds behind Pooley but known for her caution on the descent and reports of a mechanical problem, Longo-Ciprelli lost time and finished in 4th place. 

Christine Thorburn (USA) started well and was 4th at the 10km point but started to struggle at the top of the climb. She lost time towards the top of the climb and despite all efforts on the descent she could not maintain her speed and lost time finishing in 5th place. Soeder (Austria) and Doppmann (Switzerland) were 8th and 10th respectively at the 10km point and Soeder only managed to improve one place , while Doppmann beat her Athens placing by one to finish 8th. 

British rider Emma Pooley, who was not the planned starter for the British team, got a start based on her performance in the road race and World Championships in 2007. Pooley started 4th and it looked like the Gold medal place was assured. Pooley powered up the initial few hundred metres of the uphill start and continued to the 10km point in first place. It was an anxious wait for Pooley while she waited for the remaining riders to finish. Karin Thürig started 9th and at 10km could only manage 5th best. Thürig used her experience and power on the downhill to move her up to third place.

Armstrong started in the last 5 and was second fastest at the 10km point showed real class on the descent to move past the time of Pooley and into the Gold medal position.  Hanka Kupfernagel the German World Time Trial champion started last. The hilly start to the course made it difficult for Kupfernagel to build her usual power and could manage 16th at the 10km point. She managed to gain some advantage on the down hill but could not close the gap on Armstrong. 

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Post Race Comments

Kristin Armstrong (USA) had an amazing ride and never really looked troubled by the course. Speaking to the media after the event Armstrong said, "It's the most amazing day of my life. I've been working for this for the last eight years, especially the last four and to time everything right on one day is an accomplishment of its own. I knew this wasn't an ordinary time trial; it was really more of a mountain time trial"

Emma Pooley (Great Britain) rode one of the best rides of her life. It looked like she would get gold only missing out by 24.29 seconds to Armstrong. Pooley was overjoyed at her performance and was very excited whilst speaking to the BBC. "In the road race, I was doing my job" she said. "Today, I just concentrated on riding as fast as I could, being absolutely smooth and enjoying myself without anyone to push me off. It helps being positive-nervous, because you've been waiting four years for this. I was enjoying going fast, it was pretty fun, and I just kept saying 'faster, faster'" she said smiling. "I raced as well as I could" she added.

Then, "There's no secret, you just have to make it hurt. Imagine a friend sitting on your wheel, shouting at you."

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Results - Top 10 - click here to see full result

Position Name Country Split 1 at 10.8 km Final Time Time Behind Avg. Speed Start Position
Gold Kristin Armstrong United States 20:50.57(2) 34:51.7 40.445 20
Silver Emma Pooley Great Britain 20:46.99(1) 35:16.0 +24.29 39.98 5
Bronze Karin Thurig Switzerland 21:22.55(5) 35:51.0 +59.27 39.33 9
4 Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli France 21:10.72(3) 35:52.6 +1:00.90 39.3 15
5 Christine Thorburn United States 21:22.39(4) 35:54.2 +1:02.44 39.272 24
6 Judith Arndt Germany 21:46.69(9) 35:59.8 +1:08.05 39.17 13
7 Christiane Soeder Austria 21:34.85(8) 36:20.7 +1:29.03 38.793 22
8 Priska Doppmann Switzerland 21:47.27(10) 36:27.8 +1:36.07 38.669 17
9 Zulfiya Zabirova Kazakhstan 21:48.01(11) 36:29.5 +1:37.75 38.639 11
10 Susanne Ljungskog Sweden 21:33.33(7) 36:33.5 +1:41.78 38.568 21

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Photos   Click on any image to enlarge >>

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