AEG and SRAM will present the Second Annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial Invitational. Ten elite women time trial riders have been invited to race concurrently with the men’s time trial stage in Bakersfield. The women’s course will be the same course as the men’s race, 29.7 km with an 8% climb at the end on the China Grade Loop. Kristin Armstrong (Exergy Twenty12), last year’s winner, is aiming to repeat.
“They were actually going back and forth on whether they were going to have the women’s race this year,” said Armstrong. “I was going to be really bummed out if they didn’t because it was a really well run event for women last year. To be put on such a stage as the men in the Tour of California was special. We were amongst the crowds and fans and got to live the excitement for one day.”
Last year’s course in Solvang was packed with fans cheering for all of the women.
“I thought last year’s time trial course was great,” continued Armstrong. “It was a true time trial course. This year it’s in a different location in Bakersfield. I have gone out and ridden the course four times now. It’s a wonderful course. It is also a true time trial course.”
“My number one goal is to go back and repeat what I did in 2008 in Beijing. I have to go and do my plan and my coaches plan. Not only does the Tour of California bring great crowds but it showcases our sponsors. It’s really important for me to have a presence here. As far training and working towards London, this course simulates the London course. Women usually do 10 to 20 minute time trials. It’s a really different experience to take a time trial from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Two weeks ago at Gila I did a mid 37 minute time trial. Last week when I went home I did a 40 minute time trial. This week I was able to practice that again. There are a lot of great races going on. There is a time trial in Gatineau in Canada, but when I look at what my personal goals are, this race is critical for me. It’s not just critical for selection but also because it’s great preparation for London.”
“Going into this year I knew that my preparation would be critical. Last year my mind was right but my body was not there yet. This year I wanted to show that I could come back to my winning ways. Not only in the time trial but also going to Europe. Any time trial that I have gone into this year, I prepared like I am going into a world championship. People know me for who I am and what I have done…but when you take a year off it’s almost like I am reintroducing myself. It’s like the slate has been wiped clean and I have to prove myself again. Last year I tried to ramp up after having a child. I had a lot of support from people around me telling me that I could do it. Now I think things have clicked. All of the hard work is paying off.”
Armstrong started the year strong and simply got better. She won the TT stage at the Tour of New Zealand then won the overall jersey at the Merco Cycling Classic. Armstrong then flew to Europe and came in second behind Judith Arndt (Orica-GreenEdge) at the Tour of Flanders. Keeping her incredible form, she dominated the field in the time trial at SRAM Tour of Gila coming in a full two minutes ahead of the field. She finished Gila as the overall leader.
“People asked me at Gila what my thoughts were….about the GC…and my thoughts were on the one day time trial,” said Armstrong. “I pretended like I was not at a stage race. I just went for it. I thought about the next stage on the next day. I just knew how important my time trailing is right now.”
Unlike the other women vying for a spot on the American Olympic team, Armstrong is a working mother. She and her husband Joe Savola have a young son, Lucas.
“It has not been super easy, but I have a different perspective on it. I always say that I am a mom first and a cyclist second. It relieves a lot of the pressure. If things don’t go well, if for some reason I don’t get chosen on the team, I have the greatest thing in my life when I walk through the door, my son. The cool thing is no matter how bad a day I have, he is smiling. It’s the little things in life. Everything is icing on the cake. I came back to the sport because I was not burnt out. I love competing. I thought it would be a great goal to have 20 months to try to make the London team. Being the competitor that I am I really embraced the challenge. There are days when my son did not sleep as much as I wanted him to sleep or he woke up an hour earlier than I wanted him to wake up. The times throw you for a loop and the minute you think you have it all figured out, he changes his habits and I think, are you kidding me? (laughs) He loves taking naps. Sometimes they are one hour and sometimes they are three hours. Having my son really provided balance in my life. We often try to be perfect. I don’t have a choice. I ride at 9:00 AM…rain, snow, sun…I am riding. I used to be able to wait but I have a window of time to train and it keeps me really efficient. When I get off my bike sometimes I go directly upstairs and I start coloring with him. The greatest thing I have which I feel luckiest about is that not everyday is a nine hour bike day. I train on my bike 20 hours a week. I can spend a lot of time with son. I would be spending 40-50 hours in the office if I was not training. To me if I do well, get results, and get paid to race my bike…then why not.”
Armstrong is having an incredible year. The time trial invitational in Bakersfield is but the next step in her quest to represent the USA at the 2012 London Games…and stand on the top step at the Games.
Start list for the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial:
1. Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY12), USA
2. Tayler Wiles (Exergy TWENTY12), USA
3. Kristin Armstrong (Exergy TWENTY12), USA
4. Emilia Fahlin (Team Specialized-Lululemon), SWE
5. Loren Rowney (Team Specialized-Lululemon), AUS
6. Bridie O’Donnell (Vanderkitten-Focus), AUS
7. Janel Holcomb (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies), USA
8. Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies), USA
9. Alison Powers (NOW and NOVARTIS for MS), USA
10. Robin Farina (NOW and NOVARTIS for MS), USA