NAMPA, Idaho -- A defiant Kristin Armstrong made a surprise appearance at Stage 1 of the Exergy Tour on Friday, arriving just hours after surgery to repair a fractured left clavicle and in time to cheer on a victorious teammate.
Armstrong, 38, suffered the injury in a crash during Thursday's prologue. The Boise cyclist dismissed any notion that the injury will impede her quest for a third consecutive Olympic berth.
"The chances are not gone. I just want to make that straight now. I feel very confident," Armstrong said. "I want to make it clear that I have nine weeks and I'll be on my trainer in about two days. A little break for an athlete is sometimes a blessing in disguise."
USA Cycling will announce its selections for the Olympic team June 15. The U.S. is expected to have four participants in the road race and will choose two of them to ride in the time trial.
Armstrong won gold in the 2008 Olympic time trial.
"She has to be one of the four. She has already proven herself over the course of the year," said 1984 Olympic road race gold medalist Connie Carpenter, a race analyst for the Exergy Tour.
Carpenter said the selection committee faces a tough choice for the time trial between Armstrong, Evelyn Stevens and Amber Neben. Stevens and Neben are competing in the Exergy Tour, the $100,000 stage race that continues through Monday.
"It makes the final selection a lot more difficult," she said.
Armstrong, Stevens and Neben were scheduled to race in the Kuna Time Trial on Saturday -- their first head-to-head-to-head meeting on a time trial course this season.
The Armstrong camp, however, believes she has done enough to justify a spot in both events.
"No one in the world can accomplish right now, with the time left between now and the selection for the Olympics, what she has already done," said Joe Savola, Armstrong's husband. "What we really wanted to do was use this race was put that exclamation point on: I'm the best in the world.
"And she still is."
Armstrong has won every time trial she has entered this season, including victories over reigning world champion Judith Arndt, Canadian champion Clara Hughes and Stevens, the U.S. champ. Despite the crash, Armstrong finished 13th in Thursday's prologue, just eight seconds behind the winner.
"I have no doubt. I actually have no doubt that she'll be doing the time trial," Savola said. "She is the strongest in the world."
Armstrong said she plans to be training within a week and riding outdoors in less than two weeks. Racing dates for London are July 29 for the road race and Aug. 1 for the time trial.
"I'm going to come back stronger than I was last week," she said. "I want to show people that this injury is not going to be a hiccup for me going to London and I want to show people that I'm strong and ready to fight."
An eight-member selection committee will choose the members of the team. They take input from athletes and coaches and will meet a day or two before the announcement date to make their choices.
"We can't and would not want to speculate. We expect the committee to continue to base their decision on the outlined procedures," USA Cycling communication director Andrea Smith said.
The committee process has had controversy before, including last fall when Armstrong was bumped from the world championship team after a successful appeal by Neben. Whatever choice the committee makes is likely to be contested.
"It's the Olympics. There's a lot at stake. And the way our country is structured, any athlete who thinks they have a claim can start that process. There's a very low barrier," USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson said earlier this week.
Armstrong said she watched video of her crash a dozen times and still is not sure what happened. She crashed on a 180-degree turn on Vista Avenue. Savola speculated that there was a spot of oil on the road.
"It's just unfortunate. I finished 13th, maybe it was just an unlucky day," Armstrong said.
Armstrong's appearance Friday was a surprise to everyone, including her Exergy TWENTY12 teammates. Theresa Cliff-Ryan won the 76.7-mile stage, winning a sprint to the finish -- and helping the team move past Thursday's disappointing news.
"It was a big letdown for the team," Cliff-Ryan said. "Maybe this will boost Kristin's spirits a little bit. ... I wasn't expecting that. I wanted to run up and give her a big hug, but I knew I had to be careful."