LONDON, Aug 1, 2012 (AFP) – American Kristin Armstrong capped her return to
the sport following the birth of her baby by successfully defending the
women’s Olympic time trial crown on Wednesday.
The American, who returned to cycling after the birth of her baby nearly
two years ago in a deliberate bid to defend her crown, then announced she’d
taken part in her final competitive race.
“I am now officially retired,” said the 38-year-old Armstrong, who won by a
convincing 16 seconds from world time trial champion Judith Arndt of Germany.
Armstrong clocked a winning time of 37min 34sec for the 29 km race against
the clock around London’s Hampton Court Palace.
Arndt took the silver in 37:50 while Zabelinskaya, already the winner of a
road race bronze on Sunday, took her second medal of the Games in a time of
Danish-born New Zealander Linda Villumsen finished just two seconds off the
bronze medal in fourth with Canadian Clara Hughes in fifth.
Armstrong, no relation to seven-times Tour de France champion Lance
Armstrong, fought back the tears on the podium as she received her gold medal
and then cradled her son in her arms.
Despite giving birth fewer than two years ago and virtually retiring from
the sport, she said the lure of another Olympic gold was just too strong.
But she said this was definitely her final race.
“When I came back, everyone asked me why in the world would I come back,”
said the American.
“And the reason I came back was because the feeling I got in Beijing,
nothing could top that, but I couldn’t imagine being on the top step of the
podium with my son, Lucas, in my arms.”
Starting last from the field Armtrong, riding with a sore elbow following a
crash in the Olympic road race, kept the pace high throughout and came through
both intermediate points with an advantage over her rivals.
But despite showing signs of celebration just before the finish line, she
claimed she had been kept in the dark about the result.
“Today I didn’t know (I had won) 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,” she explained.
“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 on Sunday).
“There were torrential downpours, but I held it together, just like in