The Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 recently announced that it would not be participating in the UCI-sanctioned Liberty Classic, and has instead opted to compete in the four-day Mt Hood Cycling Classic held over the same weekend near Portland, Oregon.
"We have decided to send a full squad of eight riders to Mount Hood Classic. June 2nd-June 5th," said Team Manager Nicola Cranmer. "For several reasons, this is going to be a better race for us. This is already being touted as a Kristin Armstrong-Clara Hughes showdown."
Armstrong returned to the professional peloton in March after taking one year off to give birth to her first child. She has made it no secret that she returned to professional bike racing with the main goal of winning a time trial world title in September in Copenhagen, Denmark and a gold medal in the time trial at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Her goals are identical to those of Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes, who also recently came out of retirement. Hughes is a former winner of the Liberty Classic, however, she will compete at the Mt Hood Cycling Classic this year.
Armstrong started her season at the San Dimas Stage Race, the Redlands Bicycle Classic and Tour of the Gila. Tour of the Gila would have been the first chance for Hughes and Armstrong to go head-to-head in a lengthy 25km time trial, however, Armstrong pulled out of the race following the opening stage with a stomach bug.
Hughes dominated the Tour of the Gila time trial, winning by more than two minutes ahead of her nearest competitors. Recently, she out-paced Americans Evie Stevens and Amber Neben to win the time trial at the Panamerican Championships in Colombia. Her victory garnered an automatic spot at the UCI Time Trial World Championships in September in Denmark.
Mt Hood Cycling Classic features a flat 17km time trial, and an opportunity for Armstrong and Hughes to test each other legs against the clock. The rest of the race is set around the outskirts of Portland, through the Gorge Valley and will include a great deal of climbing.
World-class field to race Liberty Classic
The UCI Liberty Classic, held in conjunction with the pro men's UCI TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championships, has not fallen short of a stellar peloton. The one-day race has once again attracted world-class teams US-registered teams HTC-Highroad, Diadora-Pasta Zara and TIBCO-To the Top.
In addition, Canadian-based UCI Juvederm-Specialized and the Italian-registered UCI Colavita Forno D'Asolo will field a team that includes current World Champion Georgia Bronzini and her teammate and strong sprinter Theresa Cliff-Ryan.
"I am looking forward to bringing a really strong team to the Liberty Classic," said Colavita Forno D'Asolo Directeur Sportif Rachel Heal in a press release. "With the World Champion and 2010 Liberty Classic podium finisher, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, I am expecting great things. We're on a roll this year with eight victories already, and with New Jersey being home to our major sponsors Colavita and Jamis, I am hoping to bring them a result on their own doorstep."