Kristin Armstrong bleeds Olympic gold

RIO DE JANEIRO – Kristin Armstrong’s pain cave is so deep she bleeds.

Something was driving her toward the finish line that caused the leader, Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS), to sit with discomfort in the lounging beach chair that served as the hot seat.

Was it to avenge the heartbreaking loss her team suffered in the road race just days before when teammate Mara Abbott’s possible gold medal was snatched 150m from the finish? The glory of winning a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the time trial? To prove to her detractors that she does, in fact, belong on Team USA?

Armstrong, donning an American flag and bald eagle aero helmet, crossed the line with blood streaming from her nose: She had to win. There was no other option.

The Idahoan time trialed her way to legend status on Wednesday by winning her third straight gold medal in the time trial at the Olympic Games.