Cycling - Road
Belarus' Kiryienka brings it back home in cycling time trial

Vasil Kiryienka successfully defended his men's European Games title and Marlen REUSSER (SUI) bagged women's gold in the road cycling time trials in Minsk City Centre on Tuesday.

Kiryienka had an early start in the field and hammered through the 28.6km course in 33 minutes, 3.34 seconds at an average speed of 51.9kmh.

Although the Belarusian had given his all in support of team-mate Aleksandr Riabushenko, who came fourth in Sunday's road race, the defending champion felt fresh heading into the time trial two days later.

"I wasn't tired and it's a pretty short race," he said. Age might have proved a bigger problem but Kiryienka, who turns 38 on Friday, managed to cope.

"When you get older, the shorter the race is, the more difficult it is for me personally," he said. "Not only your endurance is taken into account but you also need to highlight your abilities at the maximum, first of all your rapidity and strength. If you develop endurance with age, your rapidity and strength can only diminish."

Portugal's Nelson Oliveira finished second in 33:31.82 and Czech Republic's Jan Barta nudged Ryan Mullen of Ireland off the podium by a 0.96-second margin.

In the women's race, Reusser also started in the first half of the field. She stopped the clock at 36:17.41 to make amends for a disappointing display in Saturday's road race, in which she finished 18th.

"It [Saturday's performance] woke up my ambitions because I knew I could do better," she said. "I lost contact with the front group and this really upset me, so I said to myself, 'Today I will do it'."

After the medal ceremony Reusser rushed off to catch a plane ahead of defending her Swiss time trial title tomorrow.

"I'm the favourite but you never know," she said. "It's very hot in Switzerland and you never know how your legs are going to feel after this race."

Reusser was happy to be back on top following a serious crash last year and was already looking forward to next year's Olympic Games:

"I could already show a good race in Ljubljana [Ljubljana-Domzale-Ljubljana time trial, which she won on 7 June] and also here. It shows that the preparation for Tokyo [2020 Olympic Games] is good."

With an average speed of 47.2kmh in Minsk, Reusser outclassed the rest of the field. As well as being the only competitor to ride faster than 47kmh, none of the other women was able to produce an average over 46kmh.

Dutch cyclist Chantal Blaak, the last to start, already trailed Reusser by more than 22 seconds at the first split after 8.5km. Riding at a constant pace, Blaak set the second-fastest time - 37:32.44 seconds - with an average of 45.7kmh.

The battle for bronze was an all-British affair with Hayley Simmonds, who finished in 37:44.57, edging out Alice Barnes by a 0.81-second margin.

The British riders left Alena Amialiusik of Belarus in tears. The home favourite had to settle for fifth after she was pushed off the podium by them.

GNS la/rcb/tc/pp

June 25 2019