I watched the womens road race on TV yesterday and I felt so incredibly proud to be an American and thrilled to be a former Lotto-Belisol racer. Early in the race, Kristin Armstrong of USA rode like a woman with a mission. She not only initiated a break of about 12 racers but lead in the charge to keep them free of the peloton for most of the race. She easily got the most TV time of any of the racers and earned every second of it by showing her face at the front of the group for most of the period the break was away. I have only talked to her maybe once for about two seconds but in that brief moment she really impressed me, not with her physical prowess but with her attitude. It was at the start line of the Sea Otter Road Race a few years ago. She was calm yet clearly very happy, beaming from ear to ear. Her smile was as contagious as a yawn. (Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, she's not my type.)
Another excitement for me was to see that Lotto-Belisol's Grace Verbeke was also in the breakaway. Even when the break was caught, she still had enough to sprint to 16th place. She is usually not one to talk much but she had a lot to say in the interview directly after the finish.
When the last two minutes of the race were playing themselves out and Emma Johansson (fellow non-Belgian resident here in the country) tried to jump her lead group of 5 for the win, i really hoped she would succeed because it would have been cool to watch the gal who wasnt expected to win in a group of favorites like judith arndt, nicole cooke and marianne vos. (No offense Marianne) But when she was caught, I really really hoped it would be Marianne. And when she tried to jump the others for the win, I jumped out of the couch and screamed as i tried to push her forward through the TV set. But to no avail. Nicole got her wheel and seemingly passed her with ease for the win.
After the race, I expected Nicole to talk about how she planned the ending where she would breeze by Marianne while eating bonbons and that she knew she would win all along. But instead she said that when Marianne went, she hoped she could just hold her wheel and stay there to finish second. But when she saw that the finish was still 100 meters away, she gave it a go. That was a very humble, honest interview. Nice.
Although Amber Neben didnt win the road race (she placed 22nd) two spots ahead of my friend Siobhan Dervan), I am so overjoyed for her that she did take home the time trial Jersey. Well done. What an incredible ride.
There were a lot of announcements throughout the race about all the racer retirements but the one i didnt hear them mention during the road race (although i did hear it during her time trial) was that of An Van Rie, another former Lotto-Belisol teammate. She is so incredibly strong that it is almost a pity to see her hang it up since she has only done it for about 3 years. Apparently she is ready to be promoted in her job and make some actual money. Bike parts don't count - ebay is not always a guarantee.