The Cycling Hall of Fame 2019: The case for Kristin Armstrong
Over the next months, a Rouleur writer will champion every nominee for this year’s Hall of Fame, starting with this American legend:
Ah, an Armstrong with an inspiring story that everyone can get on board with.
She was a competitive swimmer then a leading triathlete whose career was scuppered by early onset osteoarthritis. So, the Idaho native switched to cycling. At the age of 32, some are hanging up their bikes; Kristin was just getting cracking.
The time-trial was her speciality, her win at Beijing the first of three Olympic golds. She was a two-time world champion too; her emphatic winning margin in Mendrisio 2009 – 55 seconds – is the largest this century. Armstrong retired after that, but returned a little over a year later with unfinished business.
A self-confessed geek obsessed by the small details, Armstrong showed she was more than simply a sublime tester, finishing third at Trofeo Binda and second in the Ronde in 2012. She retired again after taking gold against the clock that summer in London, but the draw of competition lured her back three years later.
And so, her result in Rio 2016 is arguably her most remarkable and memorable result, given that layoff from the sport, a couple of hip surgeries and balancing a sporting career with her job as a community health doctor at a hospital in her native Idaho. Never mind that she was a month away from turning 43 too.
“I think that for so long, we’ve been told that we should be finished at a certain age. I think there are a lot of athletes out there showing that’s not true. For all the moms out there, I hope this was a very inspiring day,” she said at the winner’s press conference.
Her tearful post-race hug with her son and later showing him, wide-eyed, her gold medal, was a profound image too.
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Happily for her rivals, it seems the third retirement is final for Armstrong. She has become Endurance Performance Director on the US scheme, looking to give something back to a sport that gave her so much.
There are many athletes who achieved great things; few go on to inspire and impart their knowledge as well.
Over the coming months the Rouleur team will be making the case for each of the 18 Cycling Hall of Fame nominees. Vote for Armstrong – or any of the other nominees – below:
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