Carmen Small continues to prove she is in better form this year than Kristin Armstrong, yet it is Armstrong and not Small representing USA Cycling at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Small, who smashed Armstrong by 1 minute, 8 seconds in the national time trial championship in May, beat Armstrong by 10 seconds Thursday at the Cascade Cycling Classic time trial stage in Bend, Oregon.
The 36-year-old from Durango completed the 16-mile stage in 33 minutes, 28.89 seconds to finish eight seconds behind Canadian national time trial champion Tara Whitten. Armstrong’s time was good for third place.
Small sprinted to victory during the race’s opening road stage Wednesday ahead of Whitten, while Armstrong was fourth. It was a 90-mile climb up McKenzie Pass.
Small is now four seconds behind Whitten for the overall lead with three road stages to go. Armstrong is 24 seconds behind Whitten and sits in third place.
This is Small’s first race since being left off the Olympic roster. USA Cycling favored 42-year-old Armstrong, the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist in the time trial, despite Small’s stronger results in 2016. Small appealed but lost her case through a costly arbitration hearing.
It is also Small’s first event since joining the California-based Cyclance Pro Cycling team after leaving Cervélo-Bigla Pro Cycling, which is based in Switzerland.
Stage 3 of the Cascade Cycling Classic is an 83-mile road stage that features a climb up Sparks Lake to the finish line at Mount Bachelor’s ski area.