More than 100 professional women cyclists started the first stage of the Exergy Tour in a steady drizzle Friday. The 76.7 mile course took the racers past Lake Lowell, into the hills along the Snake River and up in the mountains before bringing the cyclists speeding across the finish line in downtown Nampa.
Theresa Cliff-Ryan, who races for Exergy TWENTY12, won the first leg of the five day race. The 33-year-old is known for her sprinting abilities. She came across the finish line in three hours and twenty minutes. Cliff-Ryan says the stage was definitely hard.
“I’m definitely not a climber so I suffered over the climbs. We had a few girls in the early breaks and it took a lot of pressure off me ‘cause I wasn’t forced to chase. I could just sit in and follow the group and if it came down to a sprint then I’d get to sprint.”
Cliff-Ryan’s win comes on the heels of her teammate Kristin Armstrong’s crash Thursday night in the prologue. That crash left Armstrong with a broken left collarbone. Armstrong had surgery Friday and was at the stage to cheer her team on.
She told the crowd that it’s difficult not to race this inaugural tour. “But I can tell you that I want to be out here supporting every minute of it behind my team.” Armstrong says she’s looking forward to Saturday’s time trial. “That was the event I was really looking forward to,” she explains.
Ina Yoko Teutenberg of Specialized-lululemon and the current German road race champion finished second Friday. She was followed by Australian Rochelle Gilmore of Faren Honda Team. Teutenberg is the overall leader heading into Saturday’s time trial after coming in fourth in Thursday night’s prologue.
Canadian Tara Whitten who races for Team TIBCO-To The Top is now second in the overall standings followed by another Canadian, Gillian Carleton (Canada) of the Canadian National Team.
Teutenberg, who represented Germany in the 2000 Olympic Games told reporters after the race that she found Friday’s stage hard. "It’s great to be an idol for little kids and give them a reason to ride bikes or another sport, to show them you can do it, even if you are a girl,” she says. “I have a niece and nephew and they look up to everybody who races. It’s what future stars do. I mean they see that and start riding their bikes."
The Exergy Tour continues Saturday morning with a time trial in downtown Kuna. It will mimic the time trial course that will take place during this year's Olympic games in London.
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