By Gregor Brown in Varese
Christine Thorburn is enjoying her final act in professional cycling at the World Championships in Varese, Italy. The American rider from Paolo Alto, California, watched her teammate Amber Neben accept the gold medal in the women's time trial and left the event satisfied with her 12th place result.
"I did not have any pressure on myself coming here. It was one last try, with Kristin [Armstrong] being Olympic Champion we had two other spots," said Thorburn, 39, to Cyclingnews. The bronze medallist from 2006 finished the 25.15-kilometre run with a time of 35:08, 1:17 back from teammate Neben.
Thorburn represented Team USA at the Olympics in Beijing with a fifth place, 1:02 behind teammate and winner Armstrong. She took a well-earned rest before travelling to Varese for her last professional race.
"After the Olympics, I went back to work for three weeks and took a honeymoon I never had a chance to take three years ago," she said.
She balances training with working 40 hours a week as a rheumatic physician. Her focus will shift away from cycling on Saturday after the women's road race, her last race. "I am very excited and ready for it," she remarked.
"Originally, I thought might finish my season at the Olympics, but I was able to come and do the time trial and the road race. I still have some form, it is just not peak."
The mood was bittersweet in the USA camp immediately after the time trial. Thorburn applauded Neben, but consoled teammate Armstrong, who finished seven seconds out of the medals.
"She is such a good competitor and she wants to win all the time. She has been a little bit racked by being Olympic Champion, and people are putting a lot of pressure on her and demands on her time. ... [2008 Men's Olympic Time Trial winner] Cancellara did not even bother coming. You have to give Kristin credit for going for it."
Thorburn will join her teammates tomorrow for a preview of the 138.4-kilometre parcours and of her last race.