World Track Champion Tara Whitten rode to a decisive victory on the opening prologue of the Tour de ‘Toona. She covered the three mile Altoona Sunset Time Trial in 5:39. Jennifer Wheeler finished less than two seconds back to secure second place. Anne Samplonioius (NOW and Novartis for MS) rounded out the podium.
“Obviously, this is a pretty fantastic result for the team,” said Team Captain Meredith Miller. “We all felt that Tara was very capable of winning the prologue, but to have Wheeler, who rode early on in the stage, in the hot seat for so long and then end up in second is really awesome. It’s a great way to start the Tour.”
Carmen Small made the top ten out of a field of nearly 80 riders. Her ride of 5:49 put her in ninth place. Miller sits 0:14 behind Whitten in 13th.
“I felt good tonight, so my result is a little bit disappointing — especially because I felt like I put in a good effort,” Miller said. “I haven’t been able to nail a time trial yet this season, but it is what it is. Right now, I’m focused on keeping a good head on my shoulder for all the hard racing that lies ahead.”
Tomorrow’s hard racing takes the form of a 74-mile road race with a hilltop finish up to Blue Knob.
“It’s a long, hard climb that is going to blow the race to bits,” predicted Miller. “I expect GC to get shaken up tomorrow.”
With four riders in the top-fifteen, Miller believes the team has multiple cards to play.
“There are a lot of really strong riders here, and we’ll need to see who is on form, but I expect us to be very competitive,” said Miller. “While Tara might not be well-suited for this type of course, Carmen, Carlee and I could fare well. Our plan to defend yellow includes the possibility that it might be on someone else’s back within the team come tomorrow night.”