Cyclist Whitten's 4th medal golden
Edmontonian now has 4 medals at Delhi Games
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 7:23 AM ET
The Canadian Press
Tara Whitten tucked an ice pack on her back, then put her head down and pedalled to gold in the individual time trial Wednesday at the Commonwealth Games.
The gruelling performance was a fitting ending to a long season for the Canadian cyclist.
The 30-year-old from Edmonton, who began the race with the ice pack to combat the sizzling 36 C heat, won the flat-out-and-back highway course in 38 minutes 59.30 seconds for her fourth medal of the Games.
"The main challenge was the heat," Whitten said. "It was a bit hotter than I was used to, so it was pretty special."
Whitten had already captured three bronze medals at the Games, in the points race, the individual pursuit, and in the team sprint with Monique Sullivan of Calgary, making her a strong candidate to be Canada's flag-bearer at Thursday's closing ceremonies.
Linda Villumsen of New Zealand, the defending world bronze medallist in the event, won silver, 4.85 seconds back, while Julia Shaw of England was 10.22 seconds back to capture bronze.
World champion Emma Pooley of England was ninth. Erinne Willock of Victoria was 11th, while Julie Beveridge of Calgary was 13th.
David Millar of Scotland won the 40-kilometre men's race in 47:18.66. Alex Dowsett of England took the silver, 54.82 seconds back, while Luke Durbridge of Australia won bronze, 1:00.56 back.
Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon, was seventh, and Ryan Roth of Cambridge, Ont., finished 10th.
Whitten, the reigning world champion in the omnium and points race, said the name of the game Wednesday was keeping cool. Cyclists sat in the warmup room before the race draped in ice vests and ice towels. The Canadian sat in an ice chair that allowed her to submerge her arms in ice.
Whitten was the leader at the turnaround point of the course along the Noida Expressway just outside the Indian capital, a track well-suited to power-packed cyclist.
"I think I'm good at putting my head down and going and there were no technical elements except for the 180-degree turn at the turnaround point, and there was no climbing," she said. "I'm better at that, just a flat course where I can just go."
Looking ahead to London
Whitten's win comes at the end of a long Commonwealth Games and a long season for the cyclist who should be one of Canada's top hopes for gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
She competed in six events in New Delhi, her first day of competition coming just four days after racing at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia.
She hopped a 13-hour flight to India, arriving the day of the opening ceremonies.
"It's a great way to end the Commonwealth Games, and it's been a busy couple of weeks with world champoinships," Whitten said. "I thought I had the energy for one more good effort and it turns out I did."
Whitten captured her pair of world gold medals in May and then broke her arm in a spill off her bike a few weeks later. She bounced back to win all six of her races at the Canadian championships in August.
The former member of Canada's cross-country ski team has been cycling seriously for less than three years and will be a medal contender heading into the Olympics in London. Before then Whitten has to determine what events she'll race. Being multi-talented on the track and the road means she could battle for a medal in numerous events.
"I have to narrow my focus a bit, I don't think [competing and training for so many events] is sustainable for the next two years," she said.
Whitten won't have much of a break before gearing up for the track cycling season which begins in December.