Whitten Fastest, Armstrong Crashes Out At Exergy Tour Prologue

Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS) called it in the Exergy Tour prologue preview when she said that the turn-around would be key to the race. For hometown hero, Kristin Armstrong (Exergy TWENTY12) and favorite to take the win, the turn brought disaster when she crashed hard after putting the fastest time so far. Armstrong got back on her bike to finish in 13th place. In tears, she crumbled, surrounded and protected by her teammates. Not only was she watching the race fall away but her Olympic dreams are also in jeopardy. Armstrong is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday morning for a mid-shaft clavicle fracture.

Three-time world track champion Tara Whitten (TIBCO/To The Top), also with Olympic dreams, clocked the fastest time of 4:09 on the 2.0 miles (3.2 km), taking the same corner conservatively.  She led a Canadian sweep on the podium. Another trackie, Gillian Carleton (Canadian National Team) was second while reigning Canadian TT National Champion Clara Hughes (Specialized-lululemon) was third at one second back.  Hughes, was already bruised before leaving the start gate after she crashed on that same corner.

Tara Whitten (TIBCO/To The Top) won the prologue

Tara Whitten (TIBCO). “It’s such a strong field today. I’m really sorry about Kristin’s misfortune but I’m really proud to wear the first Exergy jersey, this is an incredible race so far and I’m really excited about the coming days.”

“The Canadian cycling program over the past couple of years has really made huge improvements. Gillian is one of the really strong members of my team pursuit team on the track and we’re really excited and gearing up for the Olympics. It’s great to see that we’re both on form.”

About her pacing. “Three k[ilometer] is a distance that I do quite often on the track but it felt, I would say, opposite. Gillian and I were talking about this about how it feels on the track because, the hard section was in the first half and it was just so much more intense whereas the track is more of a steady, metered effort. It was quite painful. Watching my teammates come in and watching their hacking, rolling on the ground after the race I knew it was going to be an intense effort.

About the turn-around. “We had a very short time to practice it and there was a bit of a tough angle, I tried to be quite conservative around it but it’s such a fine balance because you need every second, every fraction of a second so you’re really pushing the limit and sometimes you just push it too much. ”

Gillian Carleton (Team Canada). “I didn’t have any trouble but I was probably one of the more conservative riders around the turn I think. I only did one loop when the course was closed and I didn’t take it full gas even in my practice run so I was definitely anticipating it a little bit and probably easing off a little earlier. ”

About Canadian sweep. “Canada breeds athletes like Clara. We have so many standout inspirational athletes, its hard not to be inspired as a child to take up any sport and know that there are people in every avenue that are going to support you and give you the chance to take on the world essentially.”

Clara Hughes (Specialized-lululemon). “I basically try to get all of my crashes out of the way this week (laughs) and I took myself out on the 180 in the warm up when the road was closed before the race. It was really embarrassing, I was really mad at myself because I had a very bad crash up in Canada, I’m in a lot of back pain but when I’m on my time-trial bike I’m okay so that’s the only place where things don’t hurt which is good but then when I crashed today, I was like ‘why is this happening?’ I consider myself pretty good around the turns and now I’m not so sure.”

About the turn-around. “I just went all out and went conservative around the turn which disappointed me because I love going fast in the turns but I wasn’t going to crash again. As soon as I got to any straightaway, I just tried to rip the pedals off my bike, basically that was my mindset, it’s so short. I thought of it like a three k[ilometer] in speed skating, where my personal best is four minutes or just less. It was kind of the same effort and I know I can do that, I’ve done that so many times in the last decade on the ice. I love efforts like that because you just can’t hold back.“

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