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Kristen Armstrong tops in Nature Valley opener

Kristin Armstrong waited until the rain let up to lay down the fastest time in the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix Wednesday morning. Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) took control of the five-day race with a time of 14:30 in the 6.1-mile stage 1 Saint Paul Riverfront Time Trial.

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Kristin Armstrong waited until the rain let up to lay down the fastest time in the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix Wednesday morning. Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) took early control of the five-day race with a time of 14:30 in the 6.1-mile stage 1 Saint Paul Riverfront Time Trial.

U.S. time trial champion Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Highroad) finished second in 14:53, with Armstrong’s teammate and 2010 stage winner Alison Starnes in third.

“My teammate Alison Starnes is in third, Kristin McGrath is also up there, so I think we have some options,” Armstrong said. “I think that I’m the target, but I don’t always have to be the answer. So I’m willing to play, I think other teams want to play. I know that HTC is out here and they’re going to want to do something. Diadora brought a team, Colavita is here, so we’re going to see some action.”

Heavy rains marked the morning of racing, but let up for the late starters, including all three podium finishers. Amber Neben (HTC) unseated McGrath before the rain ended after the Peanut Butter & Co. youngster topped early times by Meredith Miller (Tibco-To The Top) and Rushlee Buchanan (Colavita-Forso D’Asolo). Her mark of 14:59, the first of the day to go under 15 minutes, wouldn’t stand up, however as conditions improved for the late starters.

Defending champion Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara) lost 1:47 on the stage and sits in 50th overall.

Armstrong, a four-time winner of the race said it was good to be back in the twin cities.

“There’s something about the energy of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and I love the Nature Valley race,” said Armstrong. “I see people that I’ve seen for years. There’s something about coming back to a race and feeling comfortable in the community and the environment and with my team, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12. The girls are like family, so it allows me to have balance now, having a child. There’s not the extra pressures of feeling guilty that I’m not with the team for a few minutes here and there.”

Wednesday evening’s Saint Paul Criterium will be streamed live on VeloNews. The women’s criterium is at 6:15 CDT (7:15 EDT); the men start at 7:45 CDT. The video will be shown at VeloNews.competitor.com/live.

Women stage 1

  • 1. Kristin ARMSTRONG , Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12
  • 2. Evelyn STEVENS , Htc-High Road, at 23
  • 3. Alison STARNES , Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12, at 27
  • 4. Amber NEBEN , Htc-High Road, at 29
  • 5. Kristin MCGRATH , Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12, at 33

Complete results