Kupfernagel women's world TT champ

German expands gold collection in Stuttgart

Hanka Kupfernagel gave the hosts a welcome winning start to the world road race cycling championships with gold in the women's time trial here Wednesday.

The German, a former Olympic silver medallist in road who switched to the hybrid discipline of cyclo-cross, beat defending champion Kristin Armstrong, who is no relation to namesake Lance, by 23secs over the 25.1km circuit. Armstrong, of the United States, took the silver medal while Austria's Christiane Soeder finished third to take the bronze.

Kupfernagel was among the first off the ramp, and admitted her wait for the rest to finish was agony.

"I was feeling all sorts of emotions during that long wait," said the 33-year-old German, who won Olympic road silver at Sydney in 2000 and has followed up with three world titles in cyclo-cross. She admitted it was her best performance in a road event "for years", and said her decision to concentrate more on cyclo-cross had benefited her.

"I think that proved useful on this kind of circuit, which is quite technical with lots of small climbs and bends."

Armstrong admitted the course was "difficult", but said she was already looking towards a bigger prize on offer next year. "Now, I'm going to start working towards getting into the best shape possible for the Olympic Games in Beijing," said the American.

German-born Christiane Soeder, now of Austria, admitted her surprise at getting on the podium, but echoed Armstrong's ambitions, saying: "I want to go to Beijing."

Meanwhile French veteran Jeannie Longo, the 48-year-old multiple world and Olympic champion, rolled back the years again to finish in a respectable seventh place. Already rich with 13 world championship titles from road and track, Longo justified her selection by finishing well ahead of French time trial champion Maryline Salvetat, who was 19th.

"It's great, my best finish since 2003!" said Longo, who last finished in the time trial's top 10 in 2003.

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