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Stage One Women’s Race Summary

June 17, 2010

Starnes Wins Opening Time Trial of the Nature Valley Grand Prix; Armstrong Returns as Director
by Cynthia Lou

Alison Starnes of Team TIBCO won the St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial, exemplifying what the Nature Valley Grand Prix is all about – growing young talent from their first professional race experience to winning this year’s opening stage in her first NRC win. The podium was rounded out by two HTC Columbia riders, Linda Villumsen and Evelyn Stevens in second and third place respectively.

Just two years ago Starnes had her first taste of professional cycling as part of the Nature Valley Pro Ride team.

“This was my first pro race,” shared Starnes. “I’d just upgraded from a Cat-4 earlier that year, and the experience was a little traumatic – I just remember it was hard!”

One notable difference of this year on the technical side was the ban of aero equipment. Though most riders wishes they could race in full time trial gear, Starnes noted, “It’s the same race, it’s you against the clock.”

Previous years’ champion Kristin Armstrong, who announced her retirement from the sport at this stage last year, returns as the director of Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12.

“I still can’t sleep before a time trial, I get nervous for my girls!” said a radiantly pregnant Armstrong. “I’ve won this race the last four years and I’m back with my team to with for a fifth straight year.”

When asked which is harder, being a cyclist or being director, Armstrong laughs, “I think it’s easier to hop on your bike and ride! It’s been a lot of work, a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to this week. I want the girls to be able to have great races and have the kinds of experiences that I’ve had here at Nature Valley.”

Armstrong coaches many of the girls in the peloton, including winner Starnes.

“Time trialing is all in the head. It takes time to become mentally strong. Once you do that, you’ve done your homework, your fitness is there, you just have to go as hard as you can on a bike. It’s just 15 minute time trial. There’s no pacing, there’s no holding back. When you cross that line, I always tell people, no regrets because you were in control those 15 minutes.”

“We are here support women’s cycling”, says HTC Columbia team director René Wenzel, who brought a mixed squad of experienced and younger riders.

Last year’s champion Alison Powers (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) came in just shy of the podium in 4th place at 14’ 45“.

The action continues tonight at the St. Paul Downtown Criterium, with four opportunities for time bonuses of up to 15 seconds that is sure to shuffle around the general classification.


Stage One Men’s Race Summary

Nature Valley Grand Prix Time Trial Win Goes to Scott Zwizanski
by Lyne Lamoureax

The only rider to break the 13-minute barrier, Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) flew up the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix to win the St Paul Time Trial with a time of 12:55. For Zwizanski, it was all about pacing his efforts on the 6.1-mile course, flat until the finishing half-mile climb.

“I tried to do a good even hard pace on the flat and have enough left to really power up the hill. I did pretty well on this two years ago and I had some memories from that and I just wanted to make sure that I had enough left for the last 500 meters so I wouldn’t die.”

Finishing second, nine seconds behind Zwizanski, is two-time Nature Valley Grand Prix champion (2008 and 2009) Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis). Zwizanski’s teammate Zach Bell sits in third place at 15 seconds back.

The 148 riders this morning were greeted by overcast skies and dead calm as they faced the race of truth. The early best time of 13:27 was set by the 16th rider out of the start ramp, Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home), a time that stood for the next thirty-nine riders when Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) clocked 13:21. Then Zwizanski made his way into the hot seat until the field finished.

“I knew there were a lot of big guns left especially Rory, he beat me a couple of weeks ago at Tour of California. I thought he’d probably beat me again but I came out on top.” said Zwizanski.

For the first time in the race, the organizers enforced the no-aero equipment rule, with riders restricted to mass-start bicycles, with a goal of leveling out the playing field between professional and amateur teams. Zwizanski didn’t feel the new rule changed the results. “I think the best TT guys are still going to be at the top.”

Though his team has defended a leader’s jersey in other races such as Tour de Beauce and Vuelta al Uruguay, Zwizanski knows that he will have his work cut out for him to hold on for the next five stages.

“It’s going to be a hard week, everybody is going to be gunning for us, I have a great team so hopefully we have some options,” added Zwizanski about his teammate Bell sitting in third spot, “It’s going to be a battle all week, it’s not going to be easy at all.”

Finishing tenth on the stage, Benjamin King (Trek-Livestrong) is the new Fruit by the Foot Best Young Rider. His 21st place finish makes Paul Martin (Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist) the Nature Valley Top Amateur.

The racing continues tonight at the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium, in a new location this year on a course full of twists, turns, and even some brick roads. With a total of 30 seconds of time bonus on the line, the action is sure to heat up as the sun sets.