Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Events

Armstrong regains the rainbow in world time trial championships

The days are numbered on her racing career, but Kristin Armstrong was not feeling nostalgic Wednesday in her last major time trial of her career. Racing with the same intensity that delivered her the Olympic gold medal last year in Beijing, Armstrong powered to the rainbow jersey in the elite women’s time trial world championship Wednesday in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The reigning Olympic time trial gold medalist ripped the 26.8km course in 35 minutes, 26 seconds (45.4kph) to claim her second world title in four years and her fourth career worlds competition medal.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Andrew Hood

2009 world championships: American Kristin Armstrong poses with her second gold medal in four years.

2009 world championships: American Kristin Armstrong poses with her second gold medal in four years.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The days are numbered on her racing career, but Kristin Armstrong was not feeling nostalgic Wednesday in her last major time trial of her career.

Racing with the same intensity that delivered her the Olympic gold medal last year in Beijing, Armstrong powered to the rainbow jersey in the elite women’s time trial world championship Wednesday in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

The reigning Olympic time trial gold medalist ripped the 26.8km course in 35 minutes, 26 seconds (45.4kph) to claim her second world title in four years and her fourth career worlds competition medal.

“It doesn’t matter what year, it’s always the best feeling to win the world title,” Armstrong said. “I just wanted to focus on going as hard as possible during the race. I wanted to be satisfied at the finish line and I wanted the strongest rider to win.”

Taking silver was Italian Noemi Cantele at 55 seconds slower (36:21) and bronze was Danish rider Linda Melanie Villumsen at 58 seconds slower (36:24).

Armstrong, 36, couldn’t ask for a better way to retire from elite competition than with a dominating parting shot.

The Boise, Idaho, resident was fastest at all three time splits and opened up a promising seven-second gap at the first time check at 5.96km. After that, she turned on the afterburners, carving out a comfortable 13-second gap to Cantele at 13.4km and never looked back.

“Today I had a perfect day,” she said. “After winning the Olympic gold medal last summer, it was very hard for me to find the motivation to race worlds, but I wanted to honor the sport. This year, I had all year to prepare for the race.”

Armstrong’s win capped a strong performance by the American squad. Early starter Jessica Phillips posted a fast early time that kept her in the “hot seat” and earned 14th at 2:11 slower (37:37).

Canada’s Tara Whitten knocked Phillips out of the hot seat and hung on to claim eighth at 1:33 slower (37:00). Whitten’s time stood until the fourth “wave” of riders entered the two-lap course.

Defending world champion Amber Neben, starting last in the No. 1 bib, settled into sixth at 1:29 slower.

No change in retirement plans

For Armstrong, the victory provides the perfect exit from a long and successful career.

After winning the gold medal in Beijing last summer, she mulled retiring while she was on top, but decided to race for one more season to honor the Olympic medal.

“I had a little extra motivation today because I am retiring. This is my last week of racing and I wanted to give everything I possibly could,” she said. “I still have a big race Saturday. We have a strong team and I hope to see another American on top of the podium. I cannot think of any better way to say goodbye to the sport than to be on top.”

She said the best part of her swan-song season was to work with the young, up-and-coming riders on the Cervélo TestTeam, something that gave her the extra motivation she needed to make the sacrifices required to maintain the drive and fitness to arrive in Mendrisio in medal condition.

The 2009 season certainly wasn’t a victory parade, Armstrong was competitive throughout the year, taking a stage win at the Tour de l’Aude in May and a stage and the overall at the Tour de l’Ardèche in September just weeks before the worlds.

“This season was been different than other years. Before Beijing, I was completely focused on being the best for the Olympics,” he said. “This year, I rode for Cervélo. I was the leader of a lot of younger girls in the sport. My motivation was to help them win races. I took pressure off myself for today. I knew the worlds were important, but everything I did after winning the (Olympic) gold medal was a bonus.”

Saturday’s road race will be Armstrong’s final race at the elite level. Next, she plans to work on her golf game and have a family — yet she will be working to help develop younger riders.

“I will be a sport director and help develop young talent,” she said. “I know come next March I will miss the sport, but right now I want to focus on Saturday. In all the years I’ve done worlds, this is the best American team we’ve ever had. Don’t count us out.”

Photo Gallery

Results

  • 1. Kristin Armstrong (USA), 26.8km in 35:26 (45.379 km/h)
  • 2. Noemi Cantele (ITA), at 0:55
  • 3. Linda Villumsen (DEN), at 0:58
  • 4. Judith Arndt (GER), at 1:24
  • 5. Christiane Soeder (AUT), at 1:28
  • 6. Amber Neben (USA), at 1:29
  • 7. Tatiana Antoshina (RUS), at 1:31
  • 8. Tara Whitten (CAN), at 1:33
  • 9. Karen Thürig (SUI), at 1:38
  • 10. Jeannie Longo (FRA), at 1:48
  • 11. Emma Pooley (GBR), at 1:57
  • 12. Trixi Worrack (GER), at 2:02
  • 13. Alexis Rhodes (AUS), at 2:07
  • 14. Jessica Phillips (USA), at 2:11
  • 15. Regina Bruins (NED), at 2:14
  • 16. Diana Ziliute (LTU), at 2:27
  • 17. Trine Schmidt (DEN), at 2:27
  • 18. Tatiana Guderzo (ITA), at 2:33
  • 19. Julie Beveridge (CAN), at 2:34
  • 20. Eleonora Van Dijk (NED), at 2:43