The Women’s Time Trial began today with a stacked group riding this race in 2016. The way the start list works is based on both the standings of your country from the previous Olympics and also from the race organiser’s discretion. So the country that won in 2012 will have a rider go out last, with second place, second last for example. The race organisers can change this however, if they feel the favourite would go out too early or someone is in form and deserves a later spot. This can be seen in both the Men’s and Women’s this year, with 2012’s top three being from USA, Germany and Russia, however the final three out on the road being Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA, showing both won places, and organiser changes.
The race was back loaded with the top five favourites all going into the final seven riders, with four of the five rounding out the competition. The 25 competitors got out on the road within 90 seconds of each other, which meant that nearly all the competitors were on the road at the same time. With nearly 20 nations represented, it truly was a brilliant race.
The Time Trial track was hit by adverse conditions in the morning with rain falling and a huge gale of a wind blowing. The course, in essence, should favour the climbers, however it isn’t as steep as first though so will likely favour the pre-Time Trialists in the field. With that in mind the race heated up when Ellen Van Dijk (NED) left the starting gate.
The Time Trial had been fairly quiet with no real shocks, until Van Dijk took a corner way too fast and came off the road, this spelt disaster for her medal hopes, however she managed to get back on track fairly quickly. Van Dijk was flawless for the rest of the run, going three seconds faster than the leader when she finished. This could have been much more if not for the mistake, and that mistake would prove costly when it was all said and done.
Next of the favourites to arrive at the finish line was Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS), who only got the chance to compete at the Olympic games after returning from a two year doping ban just a few months prior. A very unpopular rider as she came into the finish line, she arrived 16 seconds ahead of Van Dijk, which had to be heart breaking for the Dutch rider as she dropped 20 seconds with her mistake.
Up next was the 2016 Road Race champion, hoping to add the Time Trial, Anna Van Der Breggen (NED). After a masterful ride to win the Road Race, due in part to an unfortunate accident for her compatriot, another mistake from her teammate would prove to give her a medal again. Arriving in six seconds down on the leader, Zabelinskaya, she beat Van Dijk by 11 seconds, which is a decent margin however without the mistake, would have put Van Der Breggen on the cusp of losing a medal. With two to come in, though, nothing was yet in concrete.
The next rider out was Linda Villumsen (NZL) with the current World Champion in the Time Trial looking to add Olympic Gold to her medal collection. This opportunity came to an end, however, very quickly into her race, as from pretty much the first time check she was completely off the pace. She eventually arrived in finishing in sixth, around 30 seconds behind the lead.
The Final rider onto the road was Kristin Armstrong (USA), the current and two time Olympic champion was looking for a three peat in the event she is so dominant in. After coming out, she was hoping to push on and retain her title, the day before her 42nd birthday. It was neck-and-neck on the course with her time very close to that of Zabelinskaya all the way around. However, coming into the stages, she found a little something extra to push on and win with five seconds to spare, taking Gold and the victory to retain that Olympic title.