Kristin Armstrong proved yet again that she is one of the best time trialists in the sport on Friday. She won stage 1 of the Women’s USA Pro Challenge, but it was a tight battle for the 42-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist. Her Twenty16-Sho-Air teammate, Allie Dragoo set a fast time late in the order, and Armstrong, the reigning national TT champion, bested her by merely 12 hundredths of a second in Breckenridge, Colorado.
“You had to be able to pull off a little bit of everything,” said Armstrong about the TT course. “On the descent you had to be pretty daring. You had to be in the aero bars taking risks you wouldn’t otherwise. But that’s what the sport’s all about.”
Abby Mickey (UnitedHealthcare) set an early best time of 21:52 on the 8.5-mile course. Amanda Miller (Visit Dallas-Noise4Good) was next in the hot seat, stopping the clock at 21:48.
However, when the Twenty16 stars hit the course, it was clear that the early best times would not be enough to win. Dragoo rode 21:24, but it was Armstrong, the final rider out of the gate, who claimed the win and the first leader’s jersey of the inaugural women’s race. Miller finished third behind Dragoo.
Armstrong is using this race to help her ramp up fitness for world championships next month. “I look at this race as part of my training load. I’m still climbing well, and I’m still time trialing well,” she told VeloNews’ James Raia.
On Saturday, the women’s peloton will ride 58 miles from Loveland to Fort Collins, Colorado, a route that includes a significant climb up Buckhorn, which tops out about 20 miles before the finish.
“Having Allie Dragoo up there with me, it’s like a double-whammy,” said Armstrong. “The rest of the peloton’s like, ‘What are we gonna do?’
“I think that we have a couple different options in our hands tomorrow. I think some of the stronger climbers, such as Mara Abbott, she’s going to have to go for it on the climb. Going down into Fort Collins, all it’s going to take is a two- or three-person chase group. It’s going to be really hard to go away.”
Neal Rogers contributed to this report from Breckenridge.