Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY12) finished her 29-kilometer time trial with a time of 37:34.82 to earn the United States Olympic Cycling Team’s first gold medal of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo./BMC Racing) placed fourth in the men’s time trial, finishing the 44-kilometer race against the clock in 52:38.07. Amber Neben (Lake Forest, Calif./Specialized-lululemon) placed seventh in the women’s contest, finishing her ride in 38:45.17.
Armstrong, who won the gold medal in the time trial at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, becomes the first American female cyclist to successfully defend an Olympic gold medal, and only the fifth female cyclist to do it in Olympic history. It is the third Olympic gold in women’s cycling by the U.S., following Armstrong’s own gold in 2008 and Connie Carpenter-Phinney’s dramatic win over her teammate Rebecca Twigg in 1984.
“It felt good,” Armstrong said. “It was an amazing experience. It’s very similar to Beijing. Most of the time, I’m out on the time trial trying to focus, trying to struggle, trying to keep my power up. Today, there are very few moments on the course I remember. All of a sudden I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m through the climbs. Wow, I’m here already. Wow, I have to drive it.’ I knew if I let off my power one time, the finish goes from first to fourth in an instant.”
Armstrong posted the fastest cumulative split time at each of the time checks, en route to winning the time trial by 15.47 seconds over silver-medalist Judith Arndt (GER) and 22.53 seconds over bronze-medalist Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS).
In the men’s time trial, Phinney finished 1:58.53 behind the gold medalist, Bradley Wiggins (GBR), who completed the course in 50:39.54. The silver medalist, Tony Martin (GER), was 42 seconds slower than Wiggins while the bronze medalist, Christopher Froome (GBR), was 50.2 seconds faster than Phinney.
“It’s a good result, but I can’t believe I got fourth twice,” Phinney said. “I think the main positive is that I’m up with the best guys in the world in a time trial at a length I’m not comfortable in. I’m heartbroken again. Fourth is great for me, but it’s so close to a medal and the top three is all that matters. When I think about last year, 15th in Copenhagen (in the time trial at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships), fourth is definitely good for me.”
The Americans have had tremendous success in the time trial since it became an Olympic event in 1996. In that span, the United States has earned at least one medal in all but one year (1996) and now has garnered seven total medals, including two golds, two silvers and three bronzes.
Next up at the Olympic Games for USA Cycling are the track events. While the track competition begins Thursday, the first American rider toes the line in the velodrome on Friday, Aug. 3 for the qualifying round of the women’s team pursuit scheduled for 4:56 p.m. local London time. The track events will be streamed live on www.nbcolympics.com with television coverage slated on your local NBC station. For more information on cycling at the Olympic Games, visit www.usacycling.org/olympics.
Women’s Olympic Time Trial – 29 kilometers
1. Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY12) 37:34.82
2. Judith Armdt (GER) +15.47
3. Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS) +22.53
7. Amber Neben (Lake Forest, Calif./Specialized-lululemon) +1:10.35
Men’s Olympic Time Trial – 44 kilometers
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) 50:39.54
2. Tony Martin (GER) +42.00
3. Christopher Froome (GBR) +1:08.33
4. Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo./BMC Racing) +1:58.53