Kristin Armstrong Wins Olympic Gold in Women's Time Trial of 2012 London Olympics
Kristin Armstrong knew she was the favorite to win time trial gold in cycling at the Beijing Olympics. But when she looked at the start list in London, she counted nine riders with a shot.
stunning Hampton Court Palace, the 16th century court once favored by Henry VIII.
The race meandered through the Surrey countryside, twice crossing the River Thames, before finishing back at the palace. Riders in position to medal were ushered onto so-called hot seats -- three Royal-style gilded thrones -- to wait out the rest of the riders.
That's where Zabelinskaya spent much of the afternoon.
The bronze medalist in the road race, she was the 10th of a total of 24 riders to leave the start tent, and posted a time more than two minutes better than the next-fastest had crossed the line.
She looked proud, shy and honored sitting on her throne as riders finished.
"I'm really happy to win this medal in such company," she said later, "but I'm also a bit disappointed, because I know I could have gone a bit faster at the beginning."
Linda Villumsen of New Zealand (formerly Denmark) turned heads when she crossed the first checkpoint only a second slower than Armstrong, and the world silver medalist was still second-fastest at the second check.
She struggled over the final leg and finished fourth, less than two seconds off the podium.
Canadian rider Clara Hughes, a former Olympic speedskater, was third at the opening time check before fading to fifth.
"Everybody there wanted me to win. That's what's exciting," said Pooley, who won silver in Beijing. "The number of medals that are on the table, I really don't give monkeys about. We gave our best. I would not be there if I didn't want to try and win."
Arndt was considered the biggest challenge to Armstrong after her time trial victory at the world championships. The silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Games, she was fifth at the first time check but managed to pick up her pace over the final 12 miles to earn another silver.
"You have to have a good day, and I had a good," Arndt said. "I think I had a good race."
Just not as good as Armstrong.
"I'm really happy about this silver medal," Arndt said, before dropping her voice to almost a whisper. "Of course, my goal was to win gold, but if you asked me yesterday, I would have named Kristin the favorite to win."
Former time trial world champion Emma Pooley of Great Britain, who was one of the pre-race favorites, was disappointed with her finishing 6th in today's time trial, but finished the time trial to cheers from a huge home crowd.
"You always have to push your hardest and I did. I don't think I could have gone any faster. In time trial you can't affect anyone else. I'm really disappointed but if someone else is faster than you, you can't do anything," Pooley told Roadcycling.com.
"I was really pleased to help Lizzie (Armitstead) in the road race. I just wish we could have gone up Box Hill in the time trial," the 29-year-old added referring to the lack of climbing meters on today's route in her home country.
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