Kristin Armstrong crashes, breaks collarbone in Exergy Tour race

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tara Whitten led a Canadian sweep of the first three spots in the Exergy Tour prologue Thursday after American gold medalist Kristin Armstrong fell and broke her left collarbone during the two-mile stage.

Armstrong, the last of 103 riders to start, fell hard at the turnaround, putting her London Olympic hopes in doubt.

Whitten, an experienced Canadian track rider, finished in 4 minutes, 9 seconds.

She finished just ahead of Gillian Carleton. Clara Hughes was third.

Armstrong, from Boise, finished about eight seconds behind Whitten. The American was crying and holding her left shoulder after she climbed off her bicycle. Her husband, Joe Savola, said she would have surgery Thursday night, and hasn't ruled out competing in the London Olympics, if she's chosen for the team.

USA Cycling will make its selections June 15.

"She's the fastest time-trial rider in the world," Savola said. "She would have broken 4 minutes. She was flying, she was taking a chance."

"You don't expect it to happen, but it does happen," said Armstrong's Exergy team Director Simon Cope. "It's bike racing; home town, big crowd, she wanted to win, and she would have won. I mean, you know, to come 11th, you know, and sit on the ground for 20 seconds, do your own math on that one."

After official times were released, Armstrong's final place was 13th - fifth among American riders.

Missing Saturday's time trial stage in Kuna will work against Armstrong's Olympic hopes. Riders score points for their countries and themselves. Point totals decide how many Olympic participants each country can have in the cycling events, and individual point totals from races like Boise's Exergy Tour help Olympic committees select individual participants.

U.S. Cycling president and C.E.O. Steve Johnson told KBOI-TV Wednesday that Armstrong was locked in a three-person race for two time trial spots on the team U.S.A.

"It's a packed race. It's going to be a difficult decision for the selction committee," Johnson said Wednesday.

After Thursday's race, Whitten told The Associated Press that sharp turns on the course forced her to slow at several sections, including the turnaround.

"There were some technical sections where I thought I lost a little time," she said.

Whitten races for Team TIBCO, a California-based team that had $120,000 worth of bikes and equipment stolen from the team trailer a day before the race. All of the bikes were recovered.

"It was definitely not a good feeling (Wednesday) morning when we came down to breakfast," said Whitten, whose road bike was among those taken. She was all smiles after winning the stage just a day later.

Following the race, Whitten, Carleton and Hughes were shocked and saddened to learn at a news conference the extent of Armstrong's injuries.

Hughes said she fell on the same turn as Armstrong during the warm-up for the race. She said she slowed for the turnaround during the race, but only a little.

"My easy is probably on par with other people's hard, so I don't think I lost any time," Hughes said.

The Exergy Tour continues Friday, with a 76.7-mile ride through Idaho wine country near the Snake River.

The five-day event concludes Monday.