Kristin Armstrong wins third time trial gold at Rio 2016
Emma Pooley 14th for Great Britain as Armstrong claims record-equalling victory
America’s Kristin Armstrong won her third consecutive Olympic time trial gold medal, a day before her 43rd birthday, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Armstrong beat Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya to become the joint most successful road cyclist in women’s Olympic history, but Britain’s Emma Pooley missed out on a medal – finishing in 14th place.
Armstrong’s winning time of 44.26 was five seconds faster than Zabelinskaya and another six seconds faster than road race winner Anna van der Breggen who won bronze; Pooley having finished in 46.31.
Rain and high winds made riding conditions difficult on the course, with a small cobbled section meaning riders taking it slow as they rolled off the starting ramp.
Pooley made a slow start to proceedings, seemingly suffering from a gear issue, but got into her stride with a very high cadence early on.
Canada’s Tara Whitten was setting the quickest time checks early on, while another early favourite – the Netherlands’ Ellen van Dijk crashed as she took a corner too tightly.
Van Dijk recovered, despite the setback, to get back into her rhythm, but the crash was to prove costly as the rest of the favourites got out onto the course.
Pooley was provisionally third as she finished, but she didn’t even have time to make it to the hot seats – which were actually sun loungers – before her time was bettered, extinguishing the Brit’s medal hopes.
Armstrong was the last rider on the road, and – despite a nosebleed – was fastest at the first time check.
Whitten set a time of 45.01 at the finish line, but was overtaken by Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini who was the first to break the 45-minute mark.
Though not seen as one of the time trial favourites, Longo Borghini’s climbing ability earned her a short spell in the hot seat.
Van Dijk’s recovery – which didn’t stop her from taking more super-tight corners – was enough to set a new benchmark of 44.48 but that was under threat immediately from those left on the road.
The Dutchwoman could not hide her emotions as Olga Zabelinskaya relegated her to second place, however – holding her head in her hands, buried under a towel as the Russian set a time of 44.31.
Only cleared to race on the eve of the Games after appealing her ban – imposed as a result of a previous doping ban, which only expired less than a year ago, London 2012 bronze medallist Zabelinskaya celebrated with her coach as she awaited the final riders.
Van der Breggen could not topple the Russian – narrowly missing out on an historic road race-time trial double – but Armstrong’s time splits showed she had got back in front.
And so it proved, the American collapsing to the floor as she crossed the finish line in a gold medal winning time of 44.26.
A day short of her 43rd birthday, Armstrong recovered to lift her bike above her head in celebration before celebrating with her family.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games: women’s time trial – result
1) Kristin Armstrong – USA – 44.26
2) Olga Zabelinskaya – Russia +5”
3) Anna van der Breggen – Netherlands +11”
4) Ellen van Dijk – Netherlands +22”
5) Elisa Longo Borghini – Italy +25”
6) Linda Villumen – New Zealand +28”
7) Tara Whitten – Canada +35”
8) Lisa Brennauer – Germany +56”
9) Katrin Garfoot – Australia +1.09
10) Evelyn Stevens – USA +1.34
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