Powers back on top in Fitchburg

US time trail champ Alison Powers (Team Type 1) finished second in the opening time trial.

US time trail champ Alison Powers (Team Type 1) finished second in the opening time trial.

Reigning US National Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1) hopes to maintain her early lead in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic despite the tough competition that follows her after the opening time trial.

Powers showed the Massachusetts crowds the reason why she wears the stars and stripes skinsuit, winning the opening 14-kilometre time trial ahead of Lip Smackers duo Evelyn Stevens and Anne Samplonius. French National Time Trial Champion, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Vital Plus) placed a close fourth.

"Lipsmackers can definitely make it a hard race," Powers said. "We've been working hard all season and even though we will have our work cut out for us, we feel very ready. It is such a close race between the top five and there are three more stages with time bonuses at the finish. A couple seconds here and there and you can move ahead or back."

Powers placed second to Kristin Armstrong in the Tour of the Gila in May and the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June. She won her first overall title at the Joe Martin Stage Race in May and, since Armstrong is off racing in Italy, hopes to continue that success this weekend. "It's hard to win with Kristin around," Powers said. "This is a race she was not coming to. I targeted the Joe Martin and Fitchburg races to try to be able to win. Hopefully I'm able to go on and win the overall here."

Powers has not competed at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in the past, as she is normally in Europe with the US National Team racing at the conflicting Giro d' Italia Femminile. "I've been in Europe most of the season in the past and I'm really happy to be able to race here in the states, being with my family and loved ones," Powers said.  "I haven't been able to do that the past two summers and it is really special this year."

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