Kristin Armstrong made a strong statement about her Olympic chances Thursday at the women's Amgen Tour of California time trial in a blistering hot Bakersfield.
The Exergy-Twenty12 rider, who has won two world championships and one Olympic gold medal in the time trial discipline, was the only woman to cover the 29.7km course in less than 40 minutes, clocking in at 39:58.28. Alison Powers (Now and Novartis for MS), herself a former time trial national champion, brought in the second-best time at 41:23.88, and current National Race Calendar leader Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies) rounded out the podium, clocking the third-fastest time at 41:58.08.
Armstrong said the difficult, relatively long course fit perfectly into the training plan for her London Olympic goals.
"I'm trying to come out to every time trial this year and do my best," Armstrong said. "So right now I'm just training in hopes that I get selected on June 15 to go to the London games. I really wanted to focus on my longer distance time trialing – we're used to racing about 20 minutes – so when you add another 20 minutes to it, it's a different story."
Powers, who started one minute ahead of Armstrong and got passed near the end of the course, said she was happy with her ride and glad to see improvement against her American rival.
"I'm super psyched with how I rode, personally," Powers said. "A minute is a long time, but [Armstrong] has been beating me by minutes. At Gila it was more than two minutes that she beat me by. So a minute and a half is far better."
The route featured a lot of rolling terrain and one especially steep pitch, and wind conditions were changing throughout the event. Nevertheless, Armstrong powered over the entire course, passing multiple riders along the way. As she approached the finish, Armstrong put in an extra effort to sprint in under her 40-minute goal.
"In the last 200 meters I saw that it was (39 minutes and) 50 something (seconds)," Armstrong said. "And I thought it would be cool to go under 40. So I think that it was a good ride, but it was a super-heavy course. Today for the men will be the race of truth. The course is a true time trial course, a race against the clock. It's not technical by any means, and I think the heat really affected a lot of people."
Powers agreed with Armstrong's assessment to of the day's test, saying it was deceptively easy to go out too fast and not have enough left in the tank for the return.
"That was a hard course and I suffered a lot," Powers said. "I tried to go a little easy at the beginning; I tend to start a little too hard. So it was easy, mellow, mellow and then on the last half you gotta go and suffer and suffer."
Optum's Wilcoxson finished two minutes behind Armstrong, but said she was just surprised to end up on the podium as a first-year professional.
"I was shocked when I found out that I was going to be on the podium," she said. "It's unbelievable. It really is. It was a hard course, but it was nice and rolly, which is good for me. It just had that one eight percent steep climb, which usually is what hurts me the most, so I'm happy that climb was short and the rest of it was a pretty good course for me. I actually grew up down in this area in Visalia, so I'm used of this kind of heat and this kind of air quality."
Many of the women from the Thursday time trial, including all the women on the podium, will be competing at next week's ExergyTour in Boise, Idaho. The UCI race runs May 24-28.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kristin Armstrong (Exergy TWENTY12)||0:39:59.28|
|2||Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:01:24.60|
|3||Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies)||0:01:58.80|
|4||Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY12)||0:02:10.40|
|5||Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:02:33.64|
|6||Tayler Wiles (Exergy TWENTY12)||0:03:41.12|
|7||Emilia Fahlin (Specialized-Lululemon)||0:03:42.74|
|8||Janel Holcomb (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies)||0:04:13.18|
|9||Loren Rowney (Specialized-Lululemon)||0:04:16.31|
|10||Bridie O'Donnell (Vanderkitten-Focus)||0:04:24.06|