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American Kristin Armstrong successfully defended her time trial gold medal on Wednesday, winning the women’s Olympic TT at Hampton Court Palace.
Armstrong, 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 over world time trial champion Judith Arndt of Germany.
Armstrong was the last of 24 riders to start the 29km race to the southwest of London.
Russian Olga Zabelinskaya set the fast early mark and enjoyed the comfort of the leader’s golden throne until Arndt came through as the third-to-last finisher after passing road race gold medalist Marianne Vos (Netherlands) on the road. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) was on pace early to contend for the podium, but faded late, opening the door for Zabelinskaya to take bronze.
“Today my focus was ‘this is it,'” said Armstrong. “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.”
She said she had doubts after a hard crash in Saturday’s road race.
“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,” said Armstrong. “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.”
Arndt, who won the worlds time trial in Copenhagen last fall and beat Armstrong at the Tour of Flanders World Cup in April, was thrilled with silver.
“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.”
Despite giving birth fewer than two years ago and virtually retiring from the sport, Armstrong 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.”
Agence France Presse contributed to this report.