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Elite women's TT winner Karin Thurig
By Shane Stokes and Hernan Alvarez in Madrid Thürig repeats, Ironman beckons Swiss rider Karen...
By Shane Stokes and Hernan Alvarez in Madrid
Swiss rider Karen Thürig had the pressure of being the defending champion for the Elite women's time trial but she dealt with that well, racing to victory ahead of Spanish favourite Joane Somarriba and the USA's Kristin Armstrong. She admitted afterwards that she was a little worried about the parcours beforehand.
"I think that every victory is special. Right now, I don't have time to think much, but I feel that I am satisfied and I am happy with my race. When I looked at the course it was totally different from last year. I liked the roads then, you can see everything and for me this course was a little hard because of that. Especially with the downhills, there were no big curves and you don't have much space at all. So I was not sure if I would do well in it."
As if cycling isn't hard enough, Thürig still somehow finds the time to do some triathlons. "Yes, I'm still doing them," she smiled at the post-race press conference. "This year was special because I have to do the qualification for Hawaii. So in the middle of July I raced in the Ironman in Zurich. After that, I took a few days off and went to do high altitude training in Switzerland for three weeks. It was my first time to do that, I wanted to try it and see how I got on. I felt very strong afterwards, but that is four and a half weeks ago and perhaps this effect has already gone. But I know now that this is a very good thing to do next year.
"In Hawaii I will just try to finish in the top 10 as it will give me the qualification for the next one. If I have to do an Ironman in the middle of the season, it is really not easy because it is such a long race and after this race you are almost dead for a few weeks. Besides, to do a good time trial you need speed!"
Thürig was a little worried about her preparation, but glad that she came out on top. "I am lucky it went this way, because I don't have a trainer for this year. I didn't think that I could find somebody for all these disciplines, so I did it on my own! Okay, I have some people to ask about these things, but when you are on your own sometimes you are not sure if you are doing the right thing or not. I always want to do my best, so sometimes it was not easy."
Spanish silver medallist Joane Somarriba said earlier this season that she would be retiring from competition but her excellent ride on home soil in the world championships today prompted journalists to ask if she would rethink her decision. Somarriba described herself as "really, really happy" with the medal, adding that when she saw the parcours, she didn't think it was a course for me. However, despite her obvious strength, she wasn't planning on a rethink.
"I said at the beginning of the year that it would be my last one. Even if physically I still feel very strong, I will stick to that," she stated. "I had very good results this year, such as the second place at the Giro d'Italia. This world championships was my second objective of the year and I got a medal here, but I know that in my head it is time to retire. So I won't compete anymore.
"I have won many important titles during my career. I am happy. Perhaps the only thing I would change is the Olympic Games last year, that didn't go so well. But overall I am happy with what I have achieved."
American rider Kristin Armstrong was top of the leaderboard for much of the day but even though she was overhauled by Thürig and Somarriba before the end, she was pleased with her bronze medal. "I was starting to think I might have got it," she said. "I was a long time in the hot seat waiting. I had an early start as I didn't do the world championships last year, my last one being in Hamilton. So I spent a lot of time waiting.
"I was still little bit hopeful, even at the midway point. I think that one of my strengths is descending, so the second half of the course really suited me well. Even though I didn't get gold, I am really pleased with my performance. I am happy to be up here [on the podium] with Joane and Karen, both of whom I look up too. I hope to be in their seats in future years."
The 32 year old fielded what by now must be a very repetitive question, namely if she was related to Lance Armstrong. "No, we are not related," she said, with a smile. "I just have the honour and am pleased to share the last name as him. I am no connection, no relation, I just have the same name as his ex-wife."
She was then asked if she ran the London Marathon. "No, on that occasion it was his ex-wife!" she said, laughing.
The rest of the US team had an impressive performance today. Like Armstrong, Amber Neben spent much of the day waiting by the finish area as she was in provisional second place. However she was later bumped down to fifth when Karin Thürig, Joane Somarriba and Judith Arndt finished.
She said that she enjoyed the race. "It was good out there, it was actually quite a fun course and mentally stimulating. There were some trees here and there, some open road and the park was nice to come through. So I found it good. I did a real solid ride, a steady rhythm the whole time. There were a lot of downhills so I was hanging on for dear life. But I did what I could, so we will see what happens.
"It was a little bit harder than I was expecting beforehand, but it is the World Championship so I knew I would just have to go as hard as I could for the entire race, anyway. You don't really try to save anything. The downhills were fast but the way out was pretty hard, so I was pretty happy with that. All in all, it was good."
Team-mate Christine Thorburn was also in the top ten, placing eighth. "It is a really fast course," she stated. "I actually thought it was going to be harder than it was. I should have worked a little harder on the top part, there was a lot of downhill in the second half of the race."
German rider Trixi Worrack was hoping to do a ride today but had big problems with her rear disk wheel, finishing over five minutes back in 36th place. Third last in the race, she was very emotional at the finish and was consoled by her trade teammate, Australian World Cup winner Oenone Wood, who wheeled to a halt at the same time.
Wood was also disappointed with her ride, placing 14th, but she tried to give some comfort to Worrack. "It's okay, it's okay, don't worry too much about it," she said, showing commendable compassion despite just finishing her own lung-busting effort.
She talked to Cyclingnews afterwards, giving her verdict on the course. "It is what I expected, no harder and no easier. There was no wind out there. It was just more that the road was continuously up and down, that made it hard."
Also see: Women's TT - Full results, report & photos, .