By Andrew Hood
Kristin Armstrong put an exclamation point on the final week of her racing career with an emphatic victory in Wednesday’s elite women’s time trial.
The Olympic champion whipped old foes and a new generation of faces by nearly one minute to retire with the rainbow jersey. But she’s not done yet. Armstrong will compete in Saturday’s road race, promising an exciting finish to her elite career.
VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood caught up with Armstrong following her emotional victory:
VeloNews: A great way to go out, tell us about how you raced the time trial?
Kristin Armstrong: I still don’t remember the race. There are some days you’re out there and you time trial and you cannot get your legs going, you’re heavy or you’re closed. But today was the same exact feeling I had in Beijing. I asked myself throughout the race if I could go any harder, the answer was no. I asked if I could go any faster, the answer was no. I just went with it. When I look back at the race, it’s hard to remember. It’s amazing. I have been very lucky that the one days that I do focus on, I have come out on top. Last year, I was focused on Beijing; I didn’t have a great worlds, but I have to remind myself that that was not my goal. Beijing was my goal. This year, my individual goal was Mendrisio. When I raced this year, it was all about the team result, not about me. I am so happy. I love the time trial and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
VN: What was the strategy during the race?
KA: My strategy, like every time trial, is to go as hard as I can, not worry about anyone but yourself. You have to be happy with the result and everything you gave. If you worry about your competition, you’re distracted. Time trialing takes a lot of concentration.
VN: What are you emotions, knowing this is your final big weekend of racing?
KA: I go in and out of them. Today I wanted to make I stayed focused and not get so emotional. Everyone that I am close to reminds me to enjoy every second of this, because this is a journey that you’ll remember, because you’ll probably never have this again. I keep on trying to remember those words. I cannot think of any better way to say goodbye to the sport than to be on top. There are some new faces today with me on the podium, that shows that there are some new girls coming up. I like to see this.
VN: What’s next for you?
KA: I am working on some camps for some young kids, Kristin Armstrong Camps, as well as help direct some of the top elite riders and juniors. I am really happy to give back to the sport. I wasn’t ready to completely come back and work full time as a director, but I wanted to give some time back. I am also looking forward to spending some time at home.
VN: What will you miss most from racing?
KA: It’s a love-hate relationship with the travel. My husband says, whatever you do, you better keep on traveling. I will miss traveling over here in Europe. I am going to miss the friends I have. I have competitive blood, I am going to miss the competition in my life. I know it’s going to hit me. I want to enjoy these moments, but I know come March, when the race season begins, I know it’s going to be hard. It’s not going to be easy.
VN: Will you return to triathlon?
KA: No, no. I love Nordic skiing, I got a new mountain bike for my birthday, I got a Niner, so I am excited. Who knows where you will see me. Of course, I will always have fitness goals and enjoy it.
VN: Any chance you will change your mind?
KA: There are a lot of people out there that still think, come Saturday, maybe my mind will switch. No, it’s not going to switch. I want to focus on Saturday, this week isn’t over. I know for my individual goals, I’ve come out on top, but come Saturday, don’t count the American team, because I think we’re ready.
VN: What do you expect for the road race?
KA: I am really looking forward to Saturday. In the seven years I’ve raced, we have the best U.S. team for the road. I am looking forward to it. We have a strong team here and I hope to see another American on top.