Ed. Note: In 2004 Webcor was still a regional NorCal team with a few promising riders. Karen Brems (1994 World TT Champion) saw a familiar spark in Christine Thorburn and helped prepare her for the 2004 Time Trial. T-Mobile was the dominant player in women’s cycling at the time and they fully expected to stack the podium with riders like Dede Demet and Kristin Armstrong. Thorburn, Brems, and Thorburns eventual husband, Ted Huang, had other plans….
Where and when did you win?
2004 US Elite National TT Championships (also 2004 US Olympic Trials)
How did it go down?
Christine Thorburn: I felt I had given it everything in the TT, and it helped having Karen Brems (my director and mentor) talking in my radio with encouragement and Kim Boester getting me to sprint the final 100m from the road cheering me on. As Ted notes, I was
Ted Huang: One of the early riders to race the time trial (no history of doing the national TT and thus not seeded later) and thus Christine was on the edge of her seat as all of the favorite riders (all on T-Mobile) finished, each falling short of Christine’s time.
Christine Thorburn: Actually, I went for a cool-down ride with Kim because I knew it would drive me crazy to sit there waiting, and if I didn’t win, I had to be ready for the road race in 2 days for my second chance of making the Olympic team.
Where does it stack in your list of victories?
Absolutely, the best.
Do you have any memories that stand from the race?
I remember the surprised look the national team coach (and then T-Mobile Team Director) gave me when he saw that I had a proper TT bike and gear before starting the race (they had no idea I had prepped specifically for this event), and I remember riding back from my cool-down ride with Kim B and seeing Karen B jumping up and down as we approached and slowly realizing that I had accomplished my goal of qualifying for the Olympics by winning that time trial! I remember waking up the next morning still with a grin plastered across my face. I still have a small framed photo of me standing on top of the podium that day with all T-Mobile women surrounding me with the most genuine of smiles across my face.
Were you treated differently when raced with the jersey the following year?
After coming back from the Olympics and finishing 4th there in the TT, I was no longer an underdog. I was treated with more respect but also with more expectation for results. Since I won the TT and not the road race, I had limited opportunities to wear the TT champ skin suit, but everyone knew what that championship had brought me in qualifying for the Olympics. It was noticeable when racing in Europe for the first time.
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