The Olympic champion — and expectant mother — successfully directs Peanut Butter & Co.
A few months after retiring from one of the most successful careers in the sport, Kristin Armstrong is still living bike racing. Only now, the Olympic and two-time world time trial champion is in a new role as director of Peanut Butter & Co.-2012.
Armstrong is continuing her winning ways at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a stage race she won four times. This year, Peanut Butter rider Shelley Evans has the leader’s jersey after some well-orchestrated teamwork.
“I’m a very competitive person, and I’m glad I get to live vicariously through my athletes,” Armstrong said. “But it’s been an easy transition, because I’m expecting in about 11 weeks. So that has made this job, and this transition much easier. I just tell the girls, ‘don’t stress me out, I don’t want to go into labor on the road.’”
In addition to directing Peanut Butter, Armstrong also coaches a few riders on other teams for training. But that relationships changes when numbers are pinned on.
“When I come to the racing, I separate myself from the athletes that aren’t on the team,” Armstrong said. “They also give me respect, and they don’t come to me during the races. Of course there are congratulations given, and there is happiness. But we don’t discuss tactics. First and foremost, I want people to excel in the sport. But I’m always going to want my team to win.”
Evans grabbed the leader’s jersey Friday night — from another Kristin Armstrong athlete, TIBCO’s Alison Starnes.
Starnes’ first pro race was the 2008 edition of Nature Valley, which Armstrong won. Starnes said she had just upgraded from a Cat. 4, and the experience was eye-opening. “It was a little traumatic, really,” Starnes said.
This year Starnes had a different experience, winning her first NRC stage in the opening time trial. The training advice this season from Armstrong — who won the national time trial championships three times, the world time trial in 2006 and 2009 and the Olympic time trial in 2008 — couldn’t have hurt.
“It’s been a lot of fun working with the riders,” Armstrong said. “These girls give it everything they have. It’s great. To me, I’m happy for individuals that I coach, and also the team that I work with.”
Armstrong’s athletic career began in triathlon. After being diagnosed with osteoarthritis – which put running out of the picture — she moved to cycling full time. Now, as a director and expectant mother, new chapters are opening. Her riders appreciate her experience.
“Kristin is an amazing director, and she’s my personal coach,” said Evans, who added that Armstrong helps keep the give-and-take of racing in perspective.
“Even though I’m not a sprinter, I can relate to the sacrifices,” Armstrong said. “You have to be okay with giving up some goals for others. Ina [Teutenberg] taught me in 2005 that if you’re selfish and you try to take everything — the stage win, the GC or another jersey — you’ll lose everything. I’ve lived by that ever since.”
In less than three months, Armstrong has another finish line — the birth of her son.
“It will be very interesting to see how I feel after the baby comes,” Armstrong said. “I wonder if it’s going to be so exhausting and harder than going for the gold medal, or if I will be raring to go.”
Given Armstrong’s past, it’s likely to be the latter.