World's: Amber Neben wins women's time trial gold

American women's success against the clock continues

Amber Neben won the gold medal in the women’s time trial at today’s world race championships in Varese, Italy.

Neben, who finished fourth last year and fifth in 2005, clocked a winning time of 33 minutes, 51.35 seconds for the rolling 25.15km course to claim her maiden world title at the age of 34.

Austrian Christiane Soeder tok the bronze medal just under eight seconds later, with Germany's Judith Arndt claiming bronze nearly 22 seconds behind her. Neben's fellow American, Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong, finished fifth – almost six seconds outside bronze medal pace.

"I'm just lost for words, I'm so happy and excited," said Neben, who started 14th last from the 43-strong field and led at both intermediate checkpoints before pushing Russia's Tatiana Antoshina off the provisional top spot.

After finishing way down the time trial field at the Olympics, Neben, who rides as a professional for Dutch Team Flexpoint, had decided on a tailor-made programme to bring her to Varese on top form. She won last week’s difficult Tour de l'Ardeche stage race and raced some time trials in between to bring her to peak form

Nevertheless, she found herself ill prepared for the nervous wait in the hot seat, with no TV pictures to indicate the times of her rivals. "There were 13 riders behind me so the only chance I had was to finish fastest and then wait. I tried not to get too excited – I was just praying and waiting," she said.

Time trial specialist Soeder was delighted with her silver medal, having failed to live up to expectations at last year's world championships. She came third in Stuttgart behind Armstrong and German winner Hanka Kupfernagel and finished seventh in Beijing, having spent precious energy in the road race.

"I think in Beijing I suffered from my efforts in the road race," said the Austrian. "But sometimes you have good and bad days, and this is definitely one of the good ones."

Despite picking up her fourth medal in today’s time trial, 32-year-old Amdt is aiming primarily for a medal in the women's road race on Saturday. "I'm really happy because I didn't expect to win a medal today," she said.  "I've had a lot of ups and downs this season and I didn't train specifically for the time trial."

American Levi Leipheimer could add to the US time trial gold tally. He starts as favourite in the men's race against the clock on Thursday.

© AFP 2008

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