Armstrong and Soeder round out podium
After a break from racing in the world championships, the 33 year-old Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) took an emotional victory on home turf in the elite women's time trial on Wednesday.
"The course was good for me and it just went very well. I still can't believe it," said Kupfernagel. "I didn't participate at Worlds in four years. I have always done the 'cross Worlds."
"People always looked down on 'cross, so winning the title on the road is really the top thing," she said, happy with her win. "I want to thank my parents, who have given me all the genes, from which I am now profiting. Tonight we'll celebrate with a glass of champagne or maybe a few. [My partner] Mike just had his birthday yesterday, so it was the best possible belated birthday present."
Meanwhile, defending champion Armstrong had to settle for second. Notably, it was her third consecutive world championship medal in the elite women's time trial. Armstrong won bronze in Madrid two years ago and gold in Austria last year. On a hilly and technical 25km course, Armstrong finished 23.47 seconds off the pace of Kupfernagel's winning time of 34 minutes, 43.79 seconds.
"After having the world championship jersey, getting second place isn't easy," said Armstrong. "It was a difficult day and it's hard to be world champion every year. Yesterday I told my team-mates the strongest girl will win today because of the technical part and the flats. There wasn't any time to rest during the course. I knew Hanka was a dark horse coming in because she doesn't typically race with us all year, but I knew she was a strong girl."
With her third career world championship medal, Armstrong becomes one of only two Americans to win three or more world championship medals on the road, joining Greg LeMond who captured four road race medals in his career (gold in 1983 and '89 and silver in '82 and '85). Armstrong's performance also qualified her for an automatic berth on the 2008 US Olympic Team.
"I'm looking forward to going for it (world championship) again next year and also in Beijing" (at the Olympic Games), said Armstrong. "I've defended my national title for three years now and have been on the podium of the world championships for the last three years. As long as I'm healthy and injury-free, I feel pretty good about my shot."
Her team-mates also did well, with Amber Neben and Christine Thornburn placing fourth and fifth respectively.
Christiane Soeder, who raced for Austria, but was born in Germany, took the bronze medal. "It was a big surprise for me," she admitted, happy with her performance. "It is true that I had good results before, but I did not expect something so good in the world championship."
In the under 23 men's time trial, also held Wednesday, Lars Boom of the Netherlands took the gold medal after a hard-fought two-man duel with Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev. Boom is also the reigning U23 World Cyclo-cross champion.