The heavy rains which have flooded a large portion of the American midwest continued on Wednesday, washing out the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix in St. Paul, Minnesota. The men's race began, but was called to a halt after a official motorcycle slid out and caused at least one rider to crash. The field was then polled to decide if they wished to keep racing in the conditions.
More than half the field voted to halt the proceedings, much to the chagrin of Health Net's Kirk O'Bee, who was solo off the front when the race was stopped.
"It's disappointing because I made a big effort to be out there and everyone had to deal with the rain," said O'Bee who gained the first intermediate time bonus after initiating a breakaway.
"I don't think the course was that unsafe. What made it unsafe was that there were too many motos on course that were trying to get through the field. The officials also didn't do a good job in pulling lapped riders quick enough as we were coming up on them – so the motos were trying to wave them off. Personally I had no problem with the course."
The women's race also began under pouring rain, which led to a large crash in the opening laps. Hoping to stay out of harms way, former world time trial champion and defending NVGP winner Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Lifeforce) attacked with Brooke Miller (Tibco). The pair went on to lap the large majority of the field before Miller could no longer hold on to Armstrong's pace.
Miller's team-mate Joanne Kiesanowski bridged up along with Lauren Franges, also Tibco, and took second on the stage – the trio unable to pull Armstrong back.
However, despite all the hard work the officials decided not to count the results toward the overall classification due to the harsh conditions. The decision irked Armstrong, who put a great deal of effort into the solo move, as well as the Tibco riders, who would not have expended so much energy had they known it would not help them in the standings.
"I would understand if the officials had to neutralize the race in the beginning or before the start due to unsafe conditions," said Armstrong, who was disappointed that in the end her effort to lap the field provided no advantage in the overall classification.
"When you start the race and finish it in its entirety and then they decide the condition were unsafe, I think it needs to be counted for GC. There are a lot of teams that put a lot of effort into this race including Tibco," continued Armstrong, who fought off three chasing Tibco riders.
"I feel like we should go into tomorrow with the GC in place. Yes, a lot of girls got dropped or went down. Unfortunately that's bike racing and that same sort of bad luck could happen to me out there tomorrow."
"Of course we are furious because we had three sprinters out front," said Miller. "As sprinters its not our role to be out front like that burning matches, but we really want to go after the GC here. Also, for Kristin who just had an amazing ride, its not right to neutralize the results."