Kristin Armstrong takes her 3rd Gold Medal in Women's Time Trial - Total Women's Cycling

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Kristin Armstrong takes her 3rd Gold Medal in Women’s Time Trial

We followed the lone ranger riders of the women's Time Trial event

Words: Jessica Strange and Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Kristin Armstrong was the fastest rider at the 2016 Women’s Olympic Time Trial event, taking the third Gold medal of her career in testing conditions.

Wet roads made an already technical course even more so, and Armstrong had plenty of time to anticipate what was coming: taking up the mantel of last rider off, having won the event in London in 2012.

The 42-year-old (who turns 43 tomorrow!) USA rider claimed a convincing Gold, finishing 5 seconds ahead of Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya who took the second step, and 11 seconds faster than Olympic Road Race Gold Medalist Anna Van der Breggen with Bronze.

In total, twenty five of the World’s best females took to the course, which was hotly anticipated after Anna van der Breggen’s (NL) gold medal win on Sunday in the women’s road race.

Anna van der Breggen wins gold in women’s road race at Rio 2016

Athletes set off at 90 second intervals, with Britain’s own Emma Pooley taking on the challenge – having been tempted out of pro-cycling retirement by the hilly nature of the Rio course.

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Rio 2016: Women’s Time Trial

The Time Trial course began and finished in Pontal, using segments of the Grumari circuit which was ridden in the road race on Sunday. The loop contained two significant ascents and descents: the Grumari climb which is 1.3km long at 9.4 per cent gradient average, and the Grota Funda climb which is 2.13km at 6.8 per cent average. The women completed one lap of the Grumari circuit to cover 29.86km in total.

After the rains descended over the night, the tarmac was looking wet and slippery. Extra caution was taken, especially on those tight corners. The wet conditions perhaps caused time trial specialist Ellen van Dijk (The Netherlands) to slip into the gutter mid way through her race, where she lost valuable time getting back up to speed, eventually taking fourth place, 22 seconds behind Armstrong.

At the first time check, the fastest three riders were  Van der Breggen, Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) and Armstrong. However, by the finish line, Russian rider Zabelinskaya had accelerated into a podium place, whilst Longo Borghini had dropped back.

Zabelinskaya’s appearance at the event was only confirmed on Friday, after she was cleared to ride having failed a drugs test in 2014 – a failure that meant her position by the finish was welcomed with some suspicion.

Armstrong arrived at the finish with what looked like a minor nose bleed from the effort, enjoying a very special moment at her fourth Olympic games, one day ahead of her 43rd Birthday.

Britain’s Emma Pooley took 14th place – commenting with some disappointment: “I didn’t want to just compete at another Olympics – I wanted to get a result. I gave it my all.”

Next up for GB women’s cycling in Rio will be our track performances – check out the schedule here. 

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