German eyes team time trial title in 2012
Judith Arndt has seen it all in her lengthy career, and the veteran German was keen to keep distractions at a minimum during her winning ride in the women's time trial at the UCI World Championships in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
While the radio earpiece has become a seemingly de rigueur piece of time trialling kit in recent years, Arndt opted to go without and focus on the road in front of her rather than the gaps to those behind.
Her rationale? "I try to concentrate on my race without anything from the outside. I try to have a perfect race and concentrate on myself. This works for me and I know a lot of riders like the radio, but I don't."
Arndt's ability to dose her effort over the 27.8km course proved to be flawless. Given the sinuous nature of the circuit and the steady rain that washed the streets of the Danish capital throughout the afternoon, she was cautious through the corners on her opening lap, before opening the throttle over the second half of the course.
"I had no radio so I had no idea about my time," she said afterwards. "I just was a little bit careful on the first lap because I wasn't sure how the corners were in the rain, so I tried to find that out. Then on the second lap, on every corner you could go full-on except for two, so I did better on the second lap."
The German hit the midway point in third place, just over one second down on Clara Hughes (Canada). After catching a quick glimpse of her time on the big screen at the start-finish line, Arndt knew that she was on course to take the rainbow jersey.
"When you pass the finish line, you see the times, so I knew that I was not so bad," she said. "My plan was to do the second lap really full-on and full-on at the corners too."
Arndt's first medal in the Worlds time trial, a bronze, came all of 14 years ago in San Sebastian, but in spite of her glittering career since, she had never managed to clamber onto the top step of the podium. A string of strong time trial performances in recent weeks meant that she was again among the favourites for top honours before the start, but she felt that Dutch pair Marianne Vos and Ellen Van Dijk would be the women to watch.
"I thought I had a good chance, but in the time trials I won the last few weeks, not everyone was there," Arndt pointed out. "The Dutch girls Van Dijk and Vos, I really had them as the favourites here, especially in conditions like this, but they aren't on the podium."
Instead, it was Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) and Emma Pooley (Great Britain) who came closest to denying Arndt, but even they, too, were soundly beaten in the finale, finishing 22 and 24 seconds down, respectively.
"I can't tell you how much it means to me," Arndt said. "It's really a long time coming and finally it worked out."
Road race champion in Verona in 2004, Arndt will now chase a unique treble in Valkenburg next year as the team time trial makes its entry into the elite world championships.
"The team time trial is the next big goal for me, that's very attractive. I mean you have to have good individual time triallists for that, but it's so different. An average individual time triallist can be a good team time triallist."
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