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Games of the 30th Olympiad, London 2012 



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Time Trial - Armstrong does it again

London 2012 , Hampton Court, 29km

Race Writeup

American Kristin Armstrong at 10 days short of 39, became the oldest woman cyclist to win a gold medal at the Olympics. The mother of Luke (2) won her second Olympic gold in the Time Trial around the beautiful surrey countryside. Armstrong, who came out of retirement two years ago was fastest at all of the time splits around the course at Hampton Court. Starting last with the No.1 bib in the 24-rider field, ARMSTRONG nailed a blistering time of 37 minutes 34.82 seconds to knock back challenges from world time trial champion Judith Arndt (GER). Arndt started slower, but gained momentum over the undulating course to stop the clock 15.47 behind to win the silver medal, adding to her two silver medals in in the road race and time trial at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS) won her second medal in cycling road, adding London 2012 bronze in the time trial, 22.53 slower than Armstrong, to the bronze medal she won in the road race on Sunday 29 July. Zabelinskaya posted the fastest split at the second time, but started too slow to seriously challenge for gold. The Russian becomes the first double medallist in road cycling events in London 2012.

Linda Villumsen (NZL) seemed to be on track for what would have been New Zealand's first cycling Olympic medal, setting the early pace with the second-fastest time split at 9.1km, but faded in the closing third of the course to miss out on the Olympic podium, just 1.83 off a bronze medal time.

Clara Hughes (CAN) fell short in her bid to become the first Canadian with seven Olympic medals, stopping the clock with fifth. 

Emma Pooley (GBR), the time trial silver medallist from Beijing 2008, was hoping for more than sixth, but the flatter, heavy roads of Surrey did not play into her natural climbing abilities.

Olympic road champion Marianne Vos (NED) was 16th at more than three minutes off Armstrong's gold medal pace

The cycling moves to the track now....

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Kristin Armstrong (USA) in her mind, her win was never a sure thing. "Leading up to Beijing, I had been on the podium at world championships twice, so it was expected I'd be on podium in Beijing. I counted three other riders I had to beat. I was a favourite," Armstrong said. "I didn't have that clear path this time. When I looked at the start list yesterday there were nine women who could win. My mantra throughout the race today was 'I have to live with this result, because as all of us know, you're only as good as your last result.'

Even during the race, despite leading at every check with an increasing margin - first only a second, then five, then 15 at the finish, Armstrong was never sure she had the race won until she crossed the finish line. "I heard a time gap of one second, but it was like in the road race, the crowd was so loud, it felt like whenever I wanted to hear anything, the crowd was cheering. The whole time everyone was cheering."

"I kept on pretending I heard I wasn't up. I thought I must be down by a few seconds or something. So I just gave everything I had. I knew the last 10 km it would be hard to gain time. I felt that I needed to keep the pressure on the pedals because the minute I let up, even for a kilometer, I knew gold could go to fourth place pretty quickly because there are a lot of good time trialists right now."

Reflecting on her ride, "Today I didn't know until I crossed the finish line. People try to tell you you are on track, but out on the course today, the information I was getting was that it was a close race. I just needed to give it everything if I really wanted it. I had my doubts a couple of days ago (after crashing in the road race Sunday). There were torrential downpours, but I held it together, just like in Beijing."

Armstrong had to think long and hard about coming back to racing, "When I came back, everyone asked me why in the world would I come back. I came back because the feeling I got in Beijing, I thought nothing could top that, but I could imagine being on the top step of the podium with my son, Lucas, in my arms. I am now officially retired."

Armstrong had one goal, "Today my focus was 'this is it'. I have to live with this result and whatever I do today, I have to look back on. No matter what athlete you are, you're only as good as your last performance."

Judith Arndt (GER) -(Silver) the world time trial champion, had to settle for second on this occasion. "I'm absolutely happy today," she said. "Time trial is always complicated. It always depends completely on your physical condition. Today was a good day for me."

"My goal was to win gold, but if you asked me yesterday I would have named Kristin as favourite for today, so I am not surprised."

The German agreed with Armstrong with the assessment that the quality of the field outstripped its quantity. "Great athletes like Clara [Hughes] and Linda [Villumsen] and missed out on podium," she said. "I had to have a good today to get on the podium. I felt strong, my material was good ... I thought I could have a good race, if I could stay focused - sometimes my thoughts go somewhere else," she admitted.

Arndt does not use a radio, therefore she did not know her splits, "I decided last year I'm actually better without any input from the outside. When I just do my race. Sometimes you get information you don't want to hear, so sometimes it's just better to race and give everything you can."

On taking silver after having already won a silver medal in Athens, "I'm absolutely happy today. Time trial is always complicated. It always depends completely on your physical condition. Today was a good day for me."

On her race, "I started very well and I was really focused. I managed to keep riding fast until the end of the race."

On gold medallist Kristin Armstrong, "I'm happy for her. She is a super athlete. She was better and I have to congratulate her. She already was an Olympic champion and winning like this, that's very impressive."

On whether she felt like she could have won the gold, "I would have said that if I had lost by just three seconds, but 15-16 seconds is pretty much. I had a good day, I have never ridden so fast. I'm satisfied with silver." 

Like Armstrong, Arndt will retire this year, " I have not had a break from racing. like Kristin. I know that I am done."

Armstrong rode the road race, today's time trial and will ride the Team Pursuit on Friday, "I give my all not matter what I do. I really believed in Ina [Teutenberg] that she could win an Olympic medal so I worked hard for her. Today was another ride and I gave it everything. I will do the same on Friday, " said Arndt. 

Olga Zabelinskaya (RAU) (Bronze) who's father was the Olympic road Gold medal winner in Moscow in 1980 and actually does not approve of her choice of sport, added another bronze to the one she won in the road race was as unexpected as getting one at all. "This is the greatest achievement in my career. I am a bit disappointed. I felt I could go faster. I started too slow. I could have gained 20 seconds in the beginning."

"Two medals, of course, were something that I was dreaming about. It was a dream and I did not expect it. Tonight I am not going to celebrate because tomorrow morning I have to wake up early to fly home. Maybe I will have a party at home tomorrow."

On winning bronze, "This is the greatest achievement in my career. I am a bit disappointed. I felt I could go faster. I started too slow. I could have gained 20 seconds in the beginning."

On winning two medals, "Two medals, of course, were something that I was dreaming about. It was a dream and I did not expect it. Tonight I am not going to celebrate because tomorrow morning I have to wake up early to fly home. Maybe I will have a party at home tomorrow."

More Quotes below

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Results - Top 10 - click here to see full result

Position Name Country Time/Gap Km/Hr
1 ARMSTRONG Kristin USA 37:34.82 46.300
2 ARNDT Judith Germany 15.47 45.985
3 ZABELINSKAYA Olga Russia 22.53 45.842
4 VILLUMSEN Linda New Zealand 24.36 45.805
5 HUGHES Clara Canada 54.14 45.215
6 POOLEY Emma Great Britain +1:02.88  45.044
7 NEBEN Amber USA +1:10.35  44.899
8 van DIJK Ellen Netherlands +1:18.86  44.736
9 WORRACK Trixi Germany +1:45.91  44.223
10 ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth Great Britain +1:51.42  44.120

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Photos   Click on any image to enlarge >>


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More quotes:

Clara HUGHES (CAN) - (5th) started strongly, posting the third best time at the first time check as she looked to close out her Olympic career with a medal. However at the second check after 20.4 kilometres, the experienced Canadian had slipped two places to fifth, where she would remain at the finish.

"I had everything I needed, the best bike, and all the support from my federation. That was the best I had. There's nothing could have done more, I just wasn't good enough. This was my big goal to prepare for, and I prepared better than I ever had for this and the best I had was fifth place. Do I have sense of disappointment that I got to represent my country at the Olympics in two different events and at my sixth Olympics? Absolutely not It's a gift - an honour," she said at the finish in Hampton Court.

Due to turn 40 next month, Hughes will carry on competing to at least the end of this season for her Specialized Lululemon, and she has set the Worlds team time trial as another major objective.

Asked if this would be her last Games, she said, "I'm pretty sure, yeah. I mean, ask me tomorrow but I've know that going through these Games that this was probably the last chance I'd have to do this in my life and it really made me happy to be here to have my chance."

It was rival Kristin Armstrong (United States of America) who sealed the gold medal, retaining her title from four years ago in Beijing. Like Hughes, Armstrong has come back from a hiatus from the sport and the Canadian praised Armstrong's tenacity to succeed and overcome challenges.

"Kristen is an awesome athlete. I actually covered here for media in Beijing when she won and when she announced her retirement the first thing my husband said was that she'd be back," Hughes said.

"We're all top level athletes and we get back up and push through the pain and Kristen is no different. She's world class and it's phenomenal what she's done. I had probably had the best time trial I've ever had and I was fifth place. It's phenomenal."

On her future:
"Of course I hoped for more but that was all I had. There was nothing I could do, my bike was perfect and I had all the possible support. The Olympics were my big goal and I prepared as well as I could do. I don't feel disappointed, it was a gift to be here and I am proud to be Canadian. I am pretty sure this will be my last Olympic Games but I'll see tomorrow. For sure my husband will hope so because I have been such a pain for him." 

On her performance:
"It was the best I had. I do not have any excuses. That was the best I had in my heart, my legs, my head. I am disappointed, but when I look at my result, it was everything. There were four people better than me. I was focused on my effort and riding the course. It felt good, but it was a time trial, and I felt like hell. It was 38 minutes of suffering. In a sense of what my effort was, I suffered, so that means it was a good race. I knew in the last week, this was the last chance I would have to race the Olympics. I feel proud. Some people might be disappointed, but I was inspired by the potential. I gave everything I had, I just wasn't good enough."

Emma Pooley (GBR) - who got silver in the Beijing 2008 time trial only managed to get 6th today, "I just couldn't go any faster. I am disappointed, of course. I have never had so much support and have never heard so much noise on the road. I am not going to blame the course. It was that someone else was quicker. It's not my ideal course, but you do not get to choose the course."

On the pressure of riding in front of a home crowd, Pooley added, "A lot hangs on this, for British cycling, on my coach. Everyone has put a lot into it. I suppose I was more disappointed because I had a chance of getting a medal. That's the mistake of being an optimist. Perhaps I should be more pessimistic."

On the hype around the British camp and in the media, "There is no such thing as a dead cert. Everyone wants to win obviously. I do find the counting medal things a bit depressing. I think the thing the people come to watch is the story and the competition. The number of medals on a table I don't give a monkey's about. We did our best and that's what people came to see," added Pooley

Amber NEBEN (USA) - 7th

On her hopes before the race:
"Today the goal was a medal but when I saw the start list there were nine people who could fight for the podium so I knew it was difficult and Kristin (ARMSTRONG, USA - gold) was awesome today. I had a good ride I did what I could but it wasn't enough. I am not disappointed, there were better riders. It wasn't meant to be."

On bronze medallist Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RUS):
"Olga was a bit of a surprise although she rode well in the road race."

Ellen van DIJK (NED)

On coming 8th:
"I started way too slow. The second part was actually pretty good, I said to myself, 'Come on now, go and give it a ride.'"

On whether she's satisfied with the result:
"I am certainly not happy with this result. Where did I finish? Eighth? Well, that's just not what I'm doing this for. I have to be realistic, the gold is far out of my reach. She (Kristin ARMSTRONG, USA) rode so unbelievably fast. But I'm really not satisfied. This is not what I've been training so hard during the past year."  

Elizabeth Armitstead (GBR) - was not a favourite for a medal but secured a top 10 finish and can be proud of the result, particularly given the competition, "That was just awful. You have just got to put yourself in such a dark, dark place to get through that with your mind. When I saw the 10km to go banner, I was so happy. I've never felt such pain like that."

Thinking about her prefered style of racing, Armitstead added, "I love (road) racing and being amongst other people. That's what I really love about it. Really racing it and playing the tactics, I really love that bit of it. I think I'll stick to that."

Marianne Vos (NED)

On coming 16th:
"It went bad from the start and then you hope that it will change, but that's very hard in a time trial. It may sound a bit weird, but I just did not have the legs. It's no fun when you're overtaken by two other riders in a time trial, even if they're very good riders."

On her equipment:
"Although this bike is built especially for me, it did not seem to fit at all today. I have not trained very much on my time trial bike last month because I did not want to put too much pressure on my legs before the road race. I put a 100% focus on the road race and I hoped that it would work out fine for the time trial as well, but that just did not happen."

On staying focussed after winning the road race:
"I really tried to focus on the time trial after Sunday, but that's hard after the relieve of the road race. But physically I just did not recover well enough after Sunday."

Tatiana GUDERZO (ITA) - 21st

On her expectations:
"I didn't have big expectations today because I am not a specialist. I would have preferred this kind weather on Sunday for the road race when I suffered the cold and the roads were slippery. We have some regrets (about the road race) but a fifth place from (Georgia) BRONZINI (ITA) was a good result."

Emma JOHANSSON (SWE) - 14th

On her performance and looking ahead:
"Of course I am disappointed I was hoping for a top 10 finish. It was tough today the course didn't suit me and the road was rough. Now I hope for the world championships where the course will suit me better."

Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) was not surprised by her last position in the 29km ride, "I wasn't surprised about coming last. I didn't come here with big expectations, I came here for the experience, and it's been a great experience. I can't say I enjoyed it, because the time trial is never enjoyable. It's all about pushing the pain barrier. You really have to push yourself."

Reflecting on conditions, "The wind wasn't really a factor, not for me at least. It affects the heavier girls more, but I'm lighter. These conditions are good, actually, not too hot and a dry road. Perfect, actually."

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