The Exergy Tour got off to a dramatic start yesterday in downtown Boise, Idaho. Track specialist Tara Whitten of Team Tibco won the stage ahead of Gillian Carleton of the Canadian National Team and Clara Hughes of Specialized-lululemon. The top three all finished on same time with the placings determined by tens and hundredths of seconds.
The big story of yesterday came at the turnaround during the ride of pre-race favorite Kristin Armstrong. While on pace for a top time, Armstrong crashed hard on the turnaround. The Exergy rider got up and finished the stage, but she was forced to abandon the race.
The American was crying and holding her left shoulder after she climbed off her bicycle. Her husband, Joe Savola, said she would have surgery Friday and would abandon the Exergy Tour, but hasn't ruled out competing in London if she's chosen for the team. — ESPN.
The crash puts Armstrong's Olympic hopes in doubt, and complicates immeasurably the selection process for USA Cycling. Armstrong returned to racing after having a son with the ambition of winning a second gold medal in the time trial. From the start, she has faced a solid challenge from U.S. riders Amber Neben and Evelyn Stevens, but most observers believed that Armstrong would receive one of the two U.S. slots in the London time trial.
Her crash adds a significant element of uncertainty to the process, and increses the likelihood of a challenge to whatever decision the U.S. selection committee may make. Last year, Neben challenged Armstrong's selection for the World Championship time trial on the grounds that Neben had more top level international results for the season. Neben won that challenge and rode Worlds.
Now, USA Cycling has a dilemma. Do they select Armstrong in the expectation that she will be ready to compete in eight weeks? Or, do they pass her over in favor of Stevens and Neben, who are fit to ride now? Whatever they decide, no one is going to be happy. The team announcement is due on 15 June.