Joanne Kiesanowski of Team TIBCO sprinted to 2nd place in Wednesday evening's Downtown St. Paul Criterium, continuing the strong performance with which the team opened the six-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix during this morning's time trial.
The 10-second time bonus for 2nd place moved the New Zealander to just over one minute behind race leader Kristen Armstrong (Cervelo Test Team), who won the opening time trial Wednesday morning. Armstrong, who has won the past three editions of the NVGP, is the reigning Olympic TT champ, as well as a former world champion and three-time U.S. national champion in the time trial.
With Kiesanowski moving up into 13th place with the time bonus, Team TIBCO now has five riders in the top 13 overall, all within 1:04 of the race leader. Katharine Carroll, Lauren Tamayo and Julie Beveridge all posted top-10 results in the ITT this morning, and Amber Rais came in with 12th place at 1:01 back. Kiesanoski was in 17th after the morning stage, while Meredith Miller also slotted into the top 20.
"The girls rode really well this morning," said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Jeff Corbett. "I don't think anyone expected to beat Kristen. But we're in a really strong position heading into the rest of the week."
Armstrong faces a tough task if she is to repeat as winner, as she is riding without teammates this year. She won last year's race with only one teammate, Emma Rickards, who will be working for her TIBCO teammates this year.
The NVGP continues Thursday afternoon with the rolling, 60-mile Cannon Falls Road Race, a stage notorious for its crosswinds. "We'll be looking for breaks tomorrow so we can keep the pressure on Armstrong as well as (Alison) Powers (Team Type 1)," Corbett said.
Powers, the reigning U.S. national time trial champion, finished 2nd this morning, 0:13 behind Armstrong. There are plenty of time bonuses out on the road and at the finishes over the next four days, as well as opportunities to attack the field. All of which should make this NVGP a hard-fought one to the end.