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Canada’s Whitten 7th at Rio Olympic Women’s Time Trial Race + PHOTOS

by Gaelen Merritt
Tara Whitten  ©  Cor Vos
August 10, 2016 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – Multi-decorated Tara Whitten gave Canadian fans reason to cheer as she was in the hot seat for some time during the rainy women’s 29.9km Individual Time Trial. But the day belonged to Kristin Armstrong (USA) who raced to a historic third consecutive gold medal as Whitten, from Calgary, ended the day in 7th. Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Quebec, finished 13th.

Kristin Armstrong (USA)  ©  Cor Vos
Russian Olga Zabelinskaya won a controversial silver while Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands, who captured gold in the women’s road race, took home the bronze as well. Zabelinskaya’s participation raised eyebrows as she had just served an 18-month suspension for doping yet was allowed to compete, despite the somewhat conflicting circumstances, as she’d served her time according to the Court of Abritration for Sport (CAS).

Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia)  ©  Cor Vos
“It was not fun in those conditions,” stated Whitten who won Olympic bronze in the Women’s Team Pursuit in London, “But I was actually happy that it was not hot. The rain made it very technical on the descents, and we had to change the front wheel because of the gusting winds. I took the descent quite cautiously because the roads were pretty slippery. I noticed even on some of the climbs that getting out of the saddle my rear wheel was slipping.

Tara Whitten  ©  Cor Vos
“I have to be happy with my ride, because I felt like I left everything on the road. I was really hoping and aiming for a medal, for sure, so it is disappointing, especially because I’m pretty close in the times.

Whitten at the start  ©
Tara Whitten  ©  Cor Vos

“I came into these Olympics with a little less pressure; in London I was former world champion in the Omnium and Team Pursuit medalist, so I definitely had more pressure. But I felt like I was a medal contender here, so it’s disappointing.”

Karol-Anne Canuel  ©  Cor Vos
For Canuel, who was Canada’s top finisher in the Road Race last Sunday, the conditions made it difficult. “It was ugly out there,” commented Canuel. “It was raining and cold, and I had been hoping for a hot, sunny day. It was hard today, and I gave it 100%. this is what I was capable of today.

Karol-Anne Canuel  ©  Cor Vos
“I know I have to keep working on my time trial to get better. It was awesome to be here; I really happy to have been selected. Now I hope to be able to come back to the Olympics again.”

Kristin Armstrong (USA)  ©  Cor Vos

“I’ve probably ridden my time trial bike in the rain more than anyone else out here,” Armstrong stated post race, “So I kind of tricked my mind and gave myself confidence and said ‘Ok, just take it, everyone else has to go through this.’”

Final podium  ©  Cor Vos

Whitten was also quick to congratulate Armstrong on her stellar victory adding, “It’s amazing to see Kirstin Armstrong become a three-time Olympic champion; she knows how to perform on the day, and congratulations to her.”

“I’ll be honest, for Tara [Whitten] I was hoping for a medal,” commented Jacques Landry, Director of High Performance for Canada as the Road events wrapped up in Rio. “I think she’s capable of it, but she was just beat by some stronger women on the day. She did a really good technical race and she really did dig deep. So that would be the [event] where I’m slightly disappointed, but not too much. I don’t think we would change the strategy going in because she has demonstrated that she is one of the top time trialists that we’ve ever had.”

Results here.
With files from Cycling Canada.

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