World Track Champion Tara Whitten and Jennifer Wheeler of Team TIBCO/To the Top powered their way to the top two spots in the opening prologue of the Tour de ‘Toona in Pennsylvania this evening.
Whitten covered the roughly three-mile course in a shade under 5:40, averaging nearly 32 mph. Impressively, teammate Wheeler was less than 1.5 seconds behind her in 2nd place. Carmen Small of Team TIBCO also made the top 10, slotting in at 9th place, 0:11 behind Whitten, who won the Canadian National Time Trial Championship in 2009.
“This is my favorite type of effort,” the Canadian said. “I’m not always super-confident in my technical skills but I handled the corners and was able to accelerate out of them well. We had a couple days to preview the course which also helped.”
“It was a very technical course but I was confident that Tara would win,” Team Directeur Sportif Lisa Hunt added. “And I thought Jen would do well, too.”
The Tour de ‘Toona continues Thursday with 74-mile road race that finishes atop the climb up to Blue Knob. With Meredith Miller placing 13th at 0:14 back and Carlee Taylor taking 21st just 0:20 back, the Team is in a strong position for tomorrow.
“We have a lot of strong girls here,” Whitten said. “We’ll see who’s riding well, but we have a lot of options, and we can respond to a lot of different scenarios.”
Sad news. The cycling world awoke to the tragic news of the death of Australian pro cyclist Carly Hibberd. The rider from Queensland was killed after being hit by a car while training in Italy Wednesday morning. Team TIBCO’s Carmen Small was close friends with the 26-year-old, and was to be part of her wedding this fall.
“We all rode today with armbands with Carly’s name on them,” Whitten said. “We wanted to show our support for her friends and family, and also to our teammate Carmen.”
Team TIBCO extends its deepest condolences to Carly’s family, friends, teammates and the Australian cycling community.