Nature Valley Grand Prix 2008
Saint Paul Riverfront TT
In a move eerily similar to the 2007 time trial, Kristin Armstrong of Cervélo-Lifeforce demonstrated her dominance in the time trial by blowing out the women’s field in the time trial stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Armstrong completed the sunny, windy six mile course, which was altered this year to end with a one kilometer climb, in 13’44”. Second and third place for the stage, Anne Samplonius of Cheerwine, and Katharine Carroll of Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling were 42 and 47 seconds back, respectively.
Armstrong found the stage to be a pleasure. “It was really fat and fast in the trees—windy going out,” said Armstrong. “Coming back it was a tailwind so you really got some speed going. With the hill addition, it always adds a different piece of the puzzle, and for me, everyone this morning was like ‘all they need to do is add something else to help you out even more.’ And actually you know, if it kept flat, I’m a time trialist and I enjoy all sorts of training. I don’t look at one course and thinks ‘oh this is better for me.’ I actually try to become strong in all different types of courses and so it was a lot of fun.”
Second-place Samplonius, who is waiting to hear if she’s got a berth on the Canadian Olympic squad, has less experience with the course. “The whole course is completely new to me,” said Samplonius. “The wind played a big factor and the hill played a big factor, so I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of separation in the times. It was a great course. I really enjoyed it, even though it was really hard.”
With Katharine Caroll, Meredith Miller and Felicia Gomez, The Aaron’s Professional Women’s Cycling team had three of the top five time trial times of the day.
The change to the time trial route came from local rider suggestions, and brought many spectators out on a Friday morning to watch the pros battle their way up the famous (or infamous) local über-hill. Those extra spectators provided an extra bit of energy for the riders. “It was awesome,” said Armstrong. “There were lots of fans here.”
In addition to Kristin Armstrong taking the yellow jersey, only the Nature Valley Top Amateur and BOOST Best Young Rider jerseys were awarded for the day. Rebecca Much of the Webcor Builders team won the BOOST jersey for the stage, and Kristin McGrath, riding for Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light won the Nature Valley Top Amatuer for the stage. McGrath, who is still a Category 2 racer, first experienced the Nature Valley Grand Prix in 2007 as a member for the Ryan Collegiate All-Stars squad. “Ryan was a great way to be introduced to this big of a race, this very professional field and it really opened my eyes to where I wanted to be and what I needed to work on,” said McGrath. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons last year that I put to work this year and it’s going well.”
After the time trial, the peloton’s attention turned immediately to the Minneapolis Downtown Classic criterium coming up Friday evening. “I want to be safe first and foremost, but also there’s a lot of teams out here, and teams that aren’t going for GC, they’re going for the sprint, they’re going for the win,” said Armstrong. “So I’m hoping those teams are going to help us take care of the gals that want to get ahead on GC. Tonight’s not the night to get ahead on GC. There’s no time bonuses except for at the finish, and like I said the sprint teams want the podium. You know if a break gets away with non-GC, non-threat then that will help control it. I think tomorrow’s a day that we have to rest up for and be ready for.”
Results - Top 15 - click here to see full result
General Classification Top 10 - click here to see full GC
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
Matt Moses' wonderful gallery of race photos to follow soon
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