Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 16-ShoAir) won her fourth US Time Trial championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Saturday, beating teammate Carmen Small by 13 seconds and Amber Neben (Visit Dallas-Noise4Good) by 18.
Armstrong, who was the third rider to start and was the first finisher, waited nearly two hours in the hot seat as the rest of the field covered the 30.9km out-and-back course.
"I am so happy. Nothing handed to me. I came out, I did it, I stayed focused. I’m in and I’m back," Armstrong said. "I have one more step. I am on the Richmond team and then I have Rio. That is all I’m focused on."
Riders competed over two circuits of the deceptively hard 15.4km course. The wide roads and gradual power climbs were well suited for time trial specialists. Conditions looked ideal for most of the morning, but shortly after the first wave of riders started winds began to pick up and continued to increase throughout the afternoon.
Armstrong’s early start time was due to her recent lack of racing. USA Cycling determines starting order based on the previous year's national championship results. Starting order then defaults to USA Cycling points.
Lacking any recent racing experience since the 2012 Olympics, Armstrong started third. The early start time may have proved helpful, however, as it enabled Armstrong to avoid some of the winds that picked up later in the day.
"It was super, super windy, the windiest I’ve had the past two years, three years now," said Small, who, as defending champion, was the last rider on the course. "That was kind of a change because before it was hot and humid, but no wind. So that was a little bit different."
Small finished in second place despite spending the early part of the year focusing on the US pursuit program.
'I tried to be a little bit more conservative on the first lap because I don’t know my fitness since I didn’t do any base this year," Small said. "That’s not ideal. But then I rode a really good second lap and that was solid, so I’m proud of how I went to day."
Former world champion Neben’s third-place finish was her second near miss in recent weeks after finishing fourth at the women’s invitational Tour of California time trial.
"I was on the power the whole day," Neben said. "Obviously I wanted to win. I was gunning for the win. I’m disappointed that I didn’t, but no complaints about my effort. And considering the last couple of years, there is victory in making it back to where I am right now, so I am excited about that."
Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) looked close to Armstrong after her first lap. Stephens set the second best split of the day but came up short on the second lap. It was a disappointing finish for the Texan who was targeting nationals as a way to secure a spot for the Richmond world championships.
"The second lap was a little bit more difficult with the head wind,” Stephens said. “It is still a long season ahead, we’ve got the road race ahead, so now it is time to refocus."
Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) was a pre-race favourite after her win at the Tour of California last week. Stevens came up short, but the effort set a good benchmark for the rest of the season.
"You know, I’ve never quite figured out this Chattanooga time trial course," Stevens said. "It’s my third year doing it and I’ve got third fourth and fifth. Great ride to Kristen, Carmen, and all the other girls. I tried quite hard but wasn’t fast enough."
Armstrong’s winning time was 42:08, 15 seconds faster than Alison Power’s championship time in 2014. Armstrong, an early innovator in time trial technology, was spotted using a SRAM electronic shifting prototype on her Felt DA 1.
Armstrong said her current comeback is more focused than when she was targeting the London 2012 games.
"I would say the difference is I decided I can’t do everything," Armstrong said. "I was training prior to this comeback as a stage racer and as a time trialist. I’ve really had to focus with my coach on quality over quantity."
With a spot locked up for Richmond, Armstrong is one step closer to Rio.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kristin Armstrong Savola (USA) TWENTY16 p/b SHO-AIR||0:42:08|
|2||Carmen Small (USA) TWENTY16 p/b SHO-AIR||0:00:13|
|3||Amber Neben (USA) Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good||0:00:18|
|4||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team TIBCO-SVB||0:00:52|
|5||Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team||0:00:58|
|6||Leah Thomas (USA) Metromint Cycling p/b The Freewheel||0:02:01|
|7||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team||0:02:15|
|8||Allie Dragoo (USA) TWENTY16 p/b SHO-AIR||0:02:22|
|9||Tayler Wiles (USA) Velocio-SRAM|
|10||Alison Tetrick (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:02:34|
|11||Kelly Catlin (USA) NorthStar Development||0:02:40|
|12||Julie Emmerman (USA) Rally Sport Cycling Team||0:02:46|
|13||Brianna Walle (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:02:52|
|14||Amber Gaffney (USA) TWENTY16 p/b SHO-AIR||0:03:02|
|15||Amanda Miller (USA) Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth||0:03:15|
|16||Ruth Winder (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:03:31|
|17||Jessica Cutler (USA) Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking||0:03:34|
|18||Bethann Orton (USA) Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good||0:03:40|
|19||Jill Mclaughlin (USA)||0:04:02|
|20||Heather Fischer (USA) DNA Cycling p/b K4||0:04:16|
|21||Heather Albert (USA) Canyon Bicycles - Shimano||0:04:32|
|22||Kirsten Sass (USA) Team WE||0:04:39|
|23||Kathryn Hunter (USA) Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good||0:04:40|
|24||Whitney Schultz (USA) Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking||0:04:43|
|25||Lindsay Bayer (USA) Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth||0:04:47|
|26||Lauren Dagostino (USA) Healthy and Happy Racing||0:05:00|
|27||Maura Kinsella (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:05:34|
|28||Catherine Moore (USA) Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels Racing||0:05:37|
|29||Jannalyn Luttrell (USA) Roosters/Bikers Edge-UT||0:05:42|
|30||Lauren De Crescenzo (USA) DNA Cycling p/b K4||0:05:45|
|31||Shannon Kaplan (USA)||0:05:55|
|32||Amy Charity (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|33||Amy Phillips (USA) Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth||0:06:41|
|34||Julia Lonchar (USA) Team Alliance Environmental||0:06:49|
|35||Allison Linnell (USA) Vaiano Fondriest||0:07:17|
|36||Lindsay Fox (USA)||0:07:51|
|37||Jeanine Seeger (USA) CPO Bikes||0:08:13|
|38||Amy Floyd (USA) Argon18Racing p/b November &Fast Freddie Apparel||0:08:14|
|39||Katherine Shields (USA) PainPathways Cycling Team||0:08:17|
|40||Rachel Hart (USA) Team WE||0:11:12|