Nature Valley Grand Prix 2006
Race 1 - Armstrong edges Thornburn in opening TT at Nature Valley Grand Prix
Riverfront Time Trial
By Steven Kay
TEAm Lipton’s Kristin Armstrong continued dominating the time trial discipline by taking the first stage of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival’s Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The current U.S. National Women’s Time Trial Champion finished the Saint Paul Riverfront Time Trial in 9 minutes, 25 seconds, six seconds ahead of the defending Nature Valley Grand Prix champion Christine Thorburn, who finished in second at 9:31.
“The field is really deep this year. We have riders coming from places as far away as Australia and New Zealand,” Webcor/Platinum Builder’s Thorburn said before the time trial.
Armstrong seemed to sense the importance of the day’s event. “I think it is important to go out and put up a strong time today. There are several tough stages ahead,” she said prior to taking the starting ramp.
Armstrong added that the short 4.5-mile stage made posting a good time even more important. This is her first time at the Minnesota five-day stage race, but other TEAm Lipton riders told her the race is won with time bonuses.
Thorburn, who wore the leader’s jersey for five straight days last year, is all too aware of that.
“I actually finished four seconds faster this year than last,” Thorburn said after the race. Even though she was disappointed with the second place finish, Thorburn found something to smile about. “My teammates are happy, it means they don’t have to protect the yellow jersey.”
Thorburn was very excited for several of her Webcor/Platinum teammates who posted solid times, including Erinne Willock, who finished just outside of the podium with a 9:49. It was enough to capture the white BMC Best Young Rider Jersey, though.
In third place was Alison Powers of Rio Grand/Sports Garage at 9:45.
Stage winner Armstrong also was quick to praise her teammates. “There is no room for error out there, so I give a lot of credit to my teammates who went out before me. They offered tips on how the wind was blowing and in an event like this, every second matters.”
Armstrong now will don the yellow leader jersey as the Nature Valley Grand Prix heads to the Cannon Falls road race for the second stage. The Nature Valley Grand Prix, the first of three races in the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series, runs through Sunday.
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
All images courtesy Matthew Moses ( moses-images.com )
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