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Arndt Wins in New Zealand, Armstrong Still Leads

I'm resisting - with difficulty! - the temptation to make an Arndt joke. I'll let you all get busy with that. I will also confess that every time Arndt wins a race, I want to post that Olympics photo where she flips off the world. Don't mess with Judith!

Anywho, Judith Arndt won the third stage of the Tour of New Zealand from a bunch sprint after her teammate Linda Villumsen hooked her up with a lead-out. Arndt picked up a ten second time bonus at the finish. Kristin Armstrong finished second and successfully defended her race lead. Armstrong leads by 11 seconds with two stages left to race.

Heavy winds hit the riders in the finale, which from the sounds of it made for an exciting finish. Here's Gillow's account:

Although fierce winds made solo moves near impossible, attacks flew fast and furious in the final 20 kilometres.

"I attacked some and so did the other GreenEDGE-AIS girls," said Gillow, whose repeated attacks left the Americans chasing in her wake.

"It ended up working out perfectly for us," Gillow added. "Linda [Villumsen] led Judith out, and Judith won. Yesterday, she was second, and it was awesome to get the win today." (GreenEdge press release)

The Tour of New Zealand has unfolded as a battle between the GreenEdge team of defending champion Judith Arndt and the U.S. national team who holds the race lead with Kristin Armstrong. For the U.S., Evie Stevens has ridden the early break each day, and Carmen Small has been all over the front at the finish each day. Shara Gillow, meanwhile, is the breakaway girl for GreenEdge, and Gillow remains confident that GreenEdge can win the overall. "The overall is the goal," said Shara Gillow. "We have a strong team, and I reckon GC is within reach." With only 11 seconds dividing Arndt and Armstrong and time bonuses on the road each day, the next two stages should be hard-fought.

With Olympic points on the line, these early season races are unusually important for the women riders. They are chasing UCI points both for their national teams and in the hope of catching the eye of their nation's Olympic selectors. The U.S. women, in particular, are on the edge, because good results now could bring them an additional rider in the Olympic road race. Expect some hard racing in these early races from the women, especially with the European season starting this weekend.