Stormy weather had a big impact on the opening events of Day 5 at the Olympic Games in Rio, seeing all the day’s rowing and canoeing events cancelled, while conditions also caused trouble for those in the morning cycling time trials, writes Will Downing.
Ireland’s two double sculls semi-finals will instead take place tomorrow at the Lagoa Stadium near Ipanema, with Skibbereen brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan in the men’s semi-finals, and women’s semi-finalists Claire Lambe and Sinead Lynch having to sit it out.
Sanita Puspure was also due to take part in classification races in the women’s single sculls that will be held back until tomorrow.
Instead, cycling’s time trials provided the early excitement at Pontal, on the coast to the southwest of the Olympic Park, though there was no Irish involvement.
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Kristin Armstrong of the United States took her third consecutive Olympic women’s time trial title after an event packed with drama due to the early morning heavy winds and rain.
2013 time trial world champion and reigning European Games champion Ellen van Dijk was leading past the early checkpoints when she lost control and went off the road – thankfully for her, a lot more tamely than her colleague Annemiek van Vleuten during Sunday’s road race.
Van Dijk was able to get back on her bike and compete, but lost around 30 seconds
A mishap also seemed to befall Amstrong early on, suffering a nosebleed after going out last on the road over the 29.7km course.
Canada’s Tara Whitten set an impressive standard as the eighth starter out of the 25, clocking 45 minutes, 01.16 seconds to hold the advantage for a long spell.
Among those succumbing, Emma Pooley of Britain, who had been considered a strong candidate for gold in advance, but as it turned out, she would not make the medals.
Whitten was finally overtaken by road race bronze medallist Elisa Longo Borghini, who displaced Whitten by a margin of just under 10 seconds.
Within three minutes, Longo Borghini had been bested herself by van Dijk, by only three seconds.
Her lead again was short-lived, as major changes in classification were affected by the final five out on the road.
Van Dijk lost out to Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia, a double bronze-medallistat London 2012 who subsequently served an 18-month doping ban across 2014-15.
In clocking 44:31.97, Zabelinskaya had a whopping 17 seconds to spare over van Dijk, whose Dutch team-mate Anna van der Breggen was unable to overturn the Russian with her time, having to content herself with bronze, knocking gallant van Dijk out of the medals.
Van der Breggen had been 16 seconds faster than Zabelinskaya over the first 10km, but conceded 22 seconds across the rest of the course.
Meanwhile, double time-trial champion from the last two Games in Beijing and London, the American Kristin Armstrong, went through the first marker as the fastest out on the course.
However, by the time she reached 19km, she had fallen behind Zabelinskaya by 2.88 seconds.
Magnificent resolve in the final kilometres by Armstrong, whose bloodied nose remained a constant throughout the 30km trip, saw the twice time trial world champion take her third Olympic gold, on the eve of her 43rd birthday.
Armstrong’s winning margin as the last over the line? A mere 5.55 seconds ahead of Zabelinskaya, with van der Breggen third and van Dijk fourth.
44:26.42 was the Boise native’s victorious mark.
The men’s time trial saw Chris Froome drawn out last on the road (3:40pm Irish time), with Tom Dumoulin, Vasil Kiriyenka, TonyMartin and Fabian Cancellara going out just before the three-in-a-row Tour de France champion.