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Kristin Armstrong powers to California time trial win

SOLVANG, Calif. (VN) — Peanut Butter & Co.’s Kristin Armstrong put the ‘I’ in individual time trial Friday, dominating the Tour of California women’s invitational, ahead of three HTC-Highroad riders: Amber Neben (second), Charlotte Becker (third) and Evelyn Stevens (fourth).

Armstrong used the inaugural California event to notch an early milestone on her way to defending her Olympic time trial championship in London next summer.

The Idahoan finished in 34:29 on the 24.1km course, 13 seconds ahead of Neben.

“My legs didn’t feel great; they don’t feel great when I’m having a good day. If they feel great I know I’m in trouble,” Armstrong said after the race.

The event immediately preceded the sixth stage of the men’s Tour of California, and was held on the same course.

“I think it was a great way for women to race alongside the premier event in American cycling,” Armstrong said. “The course was great, it was a real race of truth. It had technicality, it had uphills, it had downhills. It was a good mix out there.”

After giving birth to her first child nine months ago, Armstrong returned from her brief retirement to try to repeat her Olympic gold. The field of 13 riders included many of the riders she is likely to face in London, including Neben, Stevens and Emma Pooley, the reigning world time trial champion. Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo), coming off an injury, finish fifth Friday.

Some other Olympic hopefuls, including Canadian Clara Hughes, chose to race the Gatineau time trial in Canada Thursday. The only woman to race both events was Neben, who was third at Gatineau.

“I had decided in my head to do (Gatineau). They do a good job of supporting women’s cycling and it’s a UCI race,” Neben said. She explained that the UCI points are important for rankings and qualifying for the world championship team and the Olympics. As a Californian on a Californian-based team, the Amgen event also was a must-do, she said.

Doing both events meant Neben had to go straight from the Gatineau podium to the Ottawa airport, still in her riding clothes. She landed in Los Angeles at 8:45 p.m. Thursday and arrived in Solvang at about midnight. She chose to ride just half of the race course before her start Friday (she drove the other half).

“I hit everything pretty well,” she said of her ride. “There are a couple of corners I wish I had do-overs on, but that’s racing.”

Quick results:

  • 1. Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12), 34:29
  • 2. Amber Neben (HTC-Highroad), 34:42
  • 3. Charlotte Becker (HTC-Highroad),
  • 4. Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Highroad), 35:08
  • 5. Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo), 35:17
  • 6. Tara Whitton (Team Tibco), 35:28
  • 7. Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad) 35:50

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