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Posts Tagged ‘Nature Valley Grand Prix’

Minneapolis – This year’s edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix will go “old school,” with a return to Eddy Merckx-style racing for the individual time trial that opens this year’s USA Cycling National Racing Calendar event.

Kristen Armstrong competing in the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 1 Time Trial.

Executive Director David LaPorte said the Nature Valley Grand Prix has opted to invoke a new USA Cycling rule that allows race organizers to specify that “massed-start legal” bicycles are required for time trials. The rule will be enforced for the six-mile (9.6 km) St. Paul Riverfront time trial on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

LaPorte said he doesn’t expect the change to significantly affect the overall results of the five-day, six-stage race.

“The time trial is only six miles and the last mile is an eight-percent climb,” he said. “Also, with the new road race in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the seconds gained or lost in the time trial are likely to be insignificant. Unlike the old Mankato road race, this course will be very hilly, with lots of opportunities for aggressive teams to shatter the pack. If big time gaps don’t form, it will likely be because the teams haven’t taken advantage of the terrain.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix will work with USA Cycling officials to spell out the specific restrictions regarding aero equipment (wheels, helmets, etc.), which will ultimately appear in the race bible.

The decision to prohibit time trial bikes is certainly not unique, as several international races (Tour of Qatar, Tour of Langkawi, etc.) have banned time trial bikes and aero equipment for years. In the U.S., the team time trial stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia featured the same restrictions.

Danny Van Haute, director of the Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Kenda professional men’s team, said the decision to prohibit time trial bikes will level the playing field. “Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t,” he said. “I’ll bet the results will be the same with time trial bikes as they would be without.”

Team Vera Bradley Foundation Director Lisa Hunt said it is disappointing for her team’s bicycle sponsor not to be able to showcase its time trial bikes. “However, in the interest of being fair and equitable for all parties involved, I support the decision,” she said. “Clearly, our strongest time trial riders will be strong on a road bike or a time trial bike. So it’s not like we are at a disadvantage.”

LaPorte said he will poll all women’s and men’s teams after the race – as he has done in previous years – to get an idea of whether the new rule should be retained for 2011.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com

About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a bootstrap kind of event. It was founded by someone interested in creating awareness about the cycling community in the Twin Cities. It’s grown to become a major contributor to Children’s Hospital and the pediatric hospice and palliative care unit managed by Children’s. A pro race that brings in 300 men and women riders for one of the largest stage races in North America.

The race director and a bevy of volunteers make this annual event happen – and more than 60,000 spectators come to the various stages in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Mankato, and Stillwater to take in all the family-friendly fun and excitement during the five-day event. They do it on a shoestring budget and rely on PAYING sponsors who see value in associating their company name with a professional race that, year-after-year, exceeds expectations.

Yet some small businesses leech on to aspects of the event for free (you can read about one such example here). They do not provide support to the pro riders who come to Minneapolis for a week every June and bust their lungs racing. They make NO contribution in support of Children’s Hospital. They do not officially sponsor any part of the Nature Valley Grand Prix or the Minnesota Bicycle Festival, yet they assume sponsor-like rights to edge their way into the action, disrupting riders and the race itself if necessary.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix doesn’t pretend it can stop unseemly behavior at every venue. Race officials politely ask ALL fans to follow spectator guidelines, stay off the roads and out of the way of cyclists who are there to perform (and win) races. NVGP can’t take away signs or free speech (AS IF!).  But if some asshole with a sign and one to many beers in his gullet thinks it wise to run elbow-to-elbow with cyclists in the midst of a race, he’s gonna find himself quickly removed from the course.

Our race director and volunteers are putting on a respectable event that cyclists WANT to be part of. We have our guidelines and rules and we expect everyone who attends to adhere to them. And the racers expect the same amount of respect.

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The venue change from downtown to Uptown Minneapolis for Stage 4 of the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix should result in a very popular race becoming even more appreciated.

Here’s the map of the race course. The race will tee off after work on Friday, June 12 and will include separate men’s and women’s races – 280 pro cyclists in all – on a course just over a mile in length. Average speeds should run at about 32 miles per hour.

Get ready Uptown!

mplsuptowncrit-2009

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Pictures tell it all. The 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix comes to a close with a fantastic Stage 6 race – the Stillwater Criterium, on June 15, 2008.

With a minute-plus lead over the rest of the field, Kristin Armstrong waves to the thousands cheering her on in Stillwater. Will she win a gold medal in Beijing? (Photo by Matt Moses)

Armstrong beams with both her stage 6 win and overall Nature Valley Grand Prix championship – her third consecutive NVGP general classification victory. (Photo by Stephanie Williams)

Team Healthnet rode in a menacing pack on Sunday, keeping all of its members close together throughout the Stillwater criterium. In the end, Rory Sutherland won the NVGP overall and his teammate, Kirk O’Bee, took home the Wheaties Sprinter’s jersey. (Photo by Matt Moses)

Rory Sutherland (in yellow leader’s jersey), riding for Healthnet-Maxxis, provides a draft for Toyota-United’s Ivan Stevic who won the 2007 NVGP. Sutherland went on to win the overall NVGP championship, while Stevic will go to Beijing in August to ride in the 2008 Summer Olympics. (Photo by Matt Moses)

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Just time for a quick post and photo on Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The weather turned for the better on Day Two, held on the country roads in and around Cannon Falls, Minn. Riders struck out on a 66-mile road course along rolling hills and next to corn and soybean crops now greening the farm fields of eastern Minnesota.

The last mile into town included a nasty gravel stretch followed by a poorly kept asphalt, pot-hole-filled-road that gave riders plenty of teeth rattling and wheel jarring. In the end, the men’s race winner, was Kirk O’Bee and the women’s field was won by Tina Pic.

Alex Candelario (far right) bumps his way through a gravelly stretch of the Stage 2 road race in Cannon Falls, Minn. Candelario finished second in the men’s race. (Photo by: Chuck Grothaus)

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