The Nature Valley Grand Prix will mark Kristin Armstrong's final competition in the US before her scheduled retirement at the end of the 2009 season. Armstrong, racing for Cérvelo TestTeam, won the first stage of the six-stage event at the Riverfront time trial held in St. Paul on Wednesday.
Armstrong has won three consecutive Nature Valley Grand Prix events in 2006, 2007 and 2008. As a long-time friend of the event organizer David LaPorte, she provided a motivational speech at General Mills, marketers of the Nature Valley brand. "David had a really cool DVD put together for me at the presentation showing all my wins, as a tribute to me," said Armstrong. "It brought tears to my eyes, I really needed that. It was really special and this race has always meant a lot to me."
Armstrong began competing as a professional cyclist in 2001 racing for teams T-Mobile, Lipton and her current Cérvelo TestTeam. She has been a valuable member of the US women's national team, winning the world time trial championship in 2006 followed by a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has earned World Cup victories, four US national titles and wins in American-based events Tour of the Gila, Tour de Toona, Nature Valley Grand Prix and Cascade Classic.
"I would be honored to win my last race here for a fourth time," said Armstrong. "I'm not sure if anyone realizes that this is my last US race. I've been in Europe so I haven't been able to see some of my close friends from the peloton as much this year."
Armstrong used April's Tour of the Gila as training for the Tour de L'Aude held in France in mid-May. According to Armstrong, she is also using the Nature Valley Grand Prix as a preparation event for the up coming Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile held in July. "The racing here has always been great preparation for me," she continued. "The racing here in the US is really hard and it has always been great to way to get into top condition."
Armstrong will not be able to compete in the US national championships this year due to conflicting team obligations at two World Cups events, Sweden's Open de Suède Vargarda team time trial on July 31 and Open de Suède Vargarda road race on August 2.