CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) Two-time Olympic time trial gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, making another comeback from retirement, won her fourth national title Saturday to lock up a spot for the world championships.
Armstrong blazed over the course in 42 minutes, 8.04 seconds to beat out teammate Carmen Small by more than 13 seconds. Amber Neben rounded out the podium.
In the men’s race, Andrew Talansky finished in 38:48.49 to beat teammate Ben King by just over than 10 seconds. David Williams earned the bronze.
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The champions earn the right to wear stars-and-stripes jerseys at the worlds, which will be held in the U.S. for the first time since 1986 this September. A strong showing in Richmond, Virginia, would secure spots on the American team heading to next year’s Rio Olympics.
Armstrong was not event guaranteed a spot on the national team for later this year when she arrived in Chattanooga this week. She had lost her spot on the U.S. team for the Pan Am Continental championships earlier this year in Mexico – which Small eventually won – when questions were raised about the criteria that USA Cycling had used in adding her to the team.
She performed well recently at the Tour of California, though, finishing third in her first major race since retiring after the London Games. And on a perfect day in Tennessee, she showed once more that she may be the best American hope for an Olympic medal in Brazil.
Armstrong built a 26-second advantage on her nearest competitors by the intermediate check point, then preserved more than enough over the second half of the course to win the event.
The victory gave Armstrong the final spot on the world championships roster. She’ll be joined by Small, whose Pan Am win secured her spot, and Evie Stevens, who was third at worlds last year.
Lauren Stephens finished fourth on Saturday while Stevens was fifth.
Talansky bounced back impressively from a respiratory infection caused him to abandon the Tour of California midway through the first stage a couple of weeks ago. The former under-23 time trial champion trailed King by 17 seconds at the intermediate checkpoint before picking up the pace of the second half of the course to win his first elite national championship.
King lost time in the final few miles but still finished second, and Williams was a surprising third. Former champion Tom Zirbel was fourth and Michael Olheiser was fifth.