Posted by Editoress on 07/27/02
Commonwealth Games Manchester, UK
Women's ITT, 23.4km - Rivington Park, Bolton
Clara Hughes surprised even herself by taking the gold medal in the women's 23.4 kilometre individual time trial today. Australia's Anne Millward was second, and another Canadian, Lyne Bessette was third. Sue Palmer-Komar finished 7th, to put all 3 Canadian riders in the top-10.
The course was an 11.7 kilometre loop, the same one to be used for the road race next week. The riders face narrow twisting roads, with a series of stepstone climbs halfway through each loop. While there is no extended climbing, the short power climbs range from 6% to 17%.
The day began overcast and grey, but as the last riders were completing their second lap the sun came out. Palmer-Komar set the early fast time of 35:53.14, but Margaret Hemsley (Australia) knocked 11 seconds off. Then it was the turn of Hughes, starting sixth from last.
"I went out really hard on the first lap, and by the second lap I was really hurting. I had to use my experience to manage the pain. The Commonwealth Games was my whole focus for cycling this year - I started right after Salt Lake (the Winter Olympics where she won a bronze medal in speedskating), so maybe I was able to concentrate more then some of the other girls, who had to race more. But I was totally surprised to win, I've actually been training for the 3000m pursuit, and this is quite a bit longer!"
Hughes elicited lots of attention from the media because of her dual sports, and she said afterwards speedskating has changed her cycling style. "I am quite a different cyclist from what I used to be - I have more power, better lactic acid management. The two sports definitely complement each other - I consider cycling my secret weapon against the other skaters."
Hughes was also asked (by a British journalist) if she would ever consider racing for England (her father is British). "I'm proud of my heritage, but I'm definitely a Canadian girl."
Lyne Bessette actually finished her first lap only 1.28 seconds behind Hughes, 7 seconds in front of Millward. "I guess I need more experience in time trialling, like these girls (Hughes and Millward). I started hard, but couldn't maintain the pace quite as well in the second lap."
The men are on course, but the top riders (including Mark Walters and Eric Wohlberg) do not start for another 45 minutes.
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