Defending champ Armstrong of U.S. loses in time trial
STUTTGART, Germany -- Hanka Kupfernagel collapsed from her bike after finishing the time trial Wednesday at the road cycling world championships. Then she spent the next two hours waiting to see if that was good enough.
It was, with plenty to spare. The German rider beat American Kristin Armstrong, the defending champion, by 23 seconds to take the title.
Wearing golden cycling shoes, Kupfernagel started early and held on to her lead after covering the 15.6-mile course on the hilly streets of Stuttgart in 34 minutes, 44 seconds.
"This was the first time I fell off the bike after a race," she said. "I couldn't think in the last 500 meters. I gave it all I had, I had nothing left."
Christiane Soeder of Austria was third, 42 seconds behind the winner.
A three-time cross world champion, the 33-year-old Kupfernagel found the uneven course, with many changes of pace, to her liking.
"It was a difficult course and Hanka rode a very good race," Armstrong said. "When I saw the course I knew the strongest woman would win. You have to be really good all around."
Already a bronze medalist in the event in 1998, Kupfernagel started 10th while Armstrong was the last of 49 riders to go. But the American was consistently behind at the splits and Kupfernagel hugged and kissed well-wishers and then broke into tears.
"I knew Hanka was a dark horse coming in because she doesn't race with us typically all year," Armstrong said. "We haven't seen her go and I knew she was a strong girl."
Americans took the next two places to have three riders in the top five. Amber Neben was fourth and Christine Thorburn, last year's bronze medalist, fifth.
Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, a 48-year-old French veteran who won the last of her previous four time trial titles in 2001, finished seventh in her 26th world championship.
"I found it a bit too cold for my liking, but I'll be at the start of the road race Saturday," she said.
Longo-Ciprelli has 30 medals from Olympic games and world championships.
Earlier, Lars Boom of the Netherlands won the men's under-23 time trial.
Boom covered the 23.6-mile course on the streets of Stuttgart in 48 minutes, 57.93 seconds. Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev came in nine seconds later to earn the silver. Ignatiev won the 2005 race and finished second last year.
Jerome Coppel of France repeated his bronze medal from last year, finishing 46 seconds behind Boom.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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