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Olympic hopefuls to excite Nature Valley Grand Prix crowds
 
By Staff
Date: 6/12/2012
Olympic hopefuls to excite Nature Valley Grand Prix crowds
 
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, a six-stage celebration of professional bicycle racing begins with the St. Paul Time Trial, Wednesday, June 13, where you can cheer on each cyclist as he or she speeds up and down South Mississippi Boulevard. The first woman takes to the course at 8:15 a.m., and the first man at 9:30 a.m., with the event ending around 11:30 a.m. Then it's on to the ever-exciting St. Paul Rice Park Criterium. The women start at 6:15 p.m. and the men at 7:45 p.m. Bring the family, watch the races, and visit the expo booths.

The Grand Prix takes to the road in Cannon Falls on Thursday evening, ending with circuit finishes in downtown Cannon Falls between 6:45-7:15 p.m. for the men and 7:40-8:15 p.m. for the women. Uptown Minneapolis is next on Friday for a second breathtaking Criterium, 28 laps for the women starting at 6:15 p.m. and 40 for the men starting at 7:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon brings a challenging 95 mile/152 kilometers road race for the men and 76 mile/121 kilometers race for the women, ending in circuits in downtown Menomonie from around 3:00 p.m. on. And the entire race closes on Sunday with repeated climbs of Chillkoot Hill in Stillwater as the pro women take off at 11:45 a.m. and the pro men at 1:30 p.m. for the Stillwater Criterium. See the links below for additional information.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

♦ Wednesday morning, June 13: St. Paul Time Trial
♦ Wednesday evening, June 13: St. Paul Downtown Criterium
♦ Thursday evening, June 14: Cannon Falls Road Race
♦ Friday evening, June 15: Uptown Minneapolis Criterium
♦ Saturday afternoon, June 16: Menomonie Road Race
♦ Sunday late morning & afternoon, June 17: Stillwater Criterium

CATCH THE RACE ACTION LIVE

Both the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium and Stillwater Criterium will both be live streamed from Nature Valley Bicycle Festival (details will be on the home page); in addition, live tweetcasts will be available for all stages using the Twitter hashtag is #nvgp.

Ending just 42 days before the mens and womens Olympic road races, the Nature Valley Grand Prix will serve as a tune-up for some Olympic hopefuls and a make-or-break qualifier for others. Thirteen American women are vying for just four spots on the American road team, and they know an announcement on the final roster is due Friday, June 15, right in the middle of the five-day stage race in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Evelyn Stevens (Team Specialized/lululemon) sits atop a few selection lists after winning La Fleche Wallone and sitting seventh on the World Cup Standings. That leaves Kristin Armstrong (Exergy/Twenty 12), Amber Neben (Specialized/lululemon), Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) hoping to impress USA Cycling officials that they deserve the other spots. The long list of women's riders also includes Theresa Cliff Ryan (Exergy Twenty 12), Andrea Dvorak (Exergy Twenty 12), Megan Guamier (Team TIBCO), Janel Holcomb (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty 12), and Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO). Making it even more complicated is Armstrong's recent crash at the Exergy Tour in Idaho. Out of the four women, two of those will also be selected for America's spots on the Time Trial squad.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix will shed some light on other Olympians. Mexico, for example, can only bring two riders - one man and one woman. Luis Enrique Davila secured his spot by winning Mexico's national championship race. Two women racers,Mayra Rocha and Ingrid Drexel, are still waiting for a choice to be about their lone Olympic spot. They are both coming to Nature Valley to try and impress their national judges.

Canada can bring three women riders to the Olympics road team and two to the time trial. The long list shows Canadians Joanie Caron (Colavita/EspnW), Veronique Fortin (Team TIBCO), Leah Kirchmann (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Joelle Numainville (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). All are registered to race at Nature Valley in June, and a yellow jersey in Stillwater, Minnesota, on June 19 may impress judges before their final list announcement on June 21.

About the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival Now in its 14th year, the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival is an 11-day celebration of bicycling that includes amateur and professional racing and community events. The Festival will open on June 7-9 with the Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic at the National Sports Center Velodrome. The marquee event, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, will be held June 13-17. The stage race has become the top event on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, attracting top American and international racing teams and nearly 300 riders from around the world. The Festival is a volunteer-run event with all profits donated to Children’s Lighthouse of Minnesota. For more information, visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

About the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar Entering its 16thseason in 2012, the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) is a road cycling series sanctioned by USA Cycling. It is designed to provide a ranking system for all elite-level cyclists, both amateur and professional, through participation in the nation’s premier cycling events.

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.

Please visit, for a preliminary list of PRO WOMEN START LISTS and PRO MEN START LISTS

Please visit Nature Valley Bicycle Festival for a full description of all the races.

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