Defending champion Kristin Armstrong dominated from start to finish to win the gold medal in the women’s time trial at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The American clocked a time of 37 minutes and 34 seconds on the 29-km course. Germany’s Judith Ardnt was second, 15 seconds slower and a further seven seconds back was Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya who claimed her second bronze medal of the games following her third place at the road race.
The 24th and final rider to leave the start house in front of the Hampton Court Place, Armstrong was the fastest at each time check and averaged a speed of 46.3 kilometers on the wet roads.
“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 announced her retirement after the race. And this time it’s final.
After winning the gold medal in 2008, Armstrong retired from the sport to have a son Lucas. She then announced her return in 2010.
“When I announced my return, non one understood.” Armstrong told l’Equipe. “Of course, by becoming a mother, I did make my sporting life more difficult. But, at the same time, to have interests other than cycling opened me up, did a lot of good psychologically and forced me to be even more rigorous. When you have to take care of your baby at 11 am, you go training at eight whatever the weather. And I wanted to relive the incredible feeling with my son Lucas in my arms on the podium that my first Olympic title in Beijing gave me. It’s a dream that I’ve accomplished Now with this gold around my neck I’m stopping. It’s definitive.”
The 20 months following childbirth where not easy. ““It is amazing. It’s been a very hard 20 months. I have had a lot of support behind me, from my team, my husband and family. My child will be two years old in September. I want to give him something to play with.” she said prior to the race.
After a tough 2011, the results started to happen again in 2012 showing she was on track for the Games. Armstrong totally dominated the Second Annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial Invitational. A fractured collarbone sustained in a crash at the Exergy Tour forced an earlier rest period but she came back strong to win the time trial at the Cascade Cycling Classic.
Armstrong 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 USA, following Armstrong’s own gold in 2008 and Connie Carpenter-Phinney‘s dramatic win over teammate Rebecca Twigg in 1984.
Amber Neben finished seventh with a time of 38 minutes and 45 seconds.