Nature Valley Grand Prix 2006
5 race series in Minnesota, USA
The Nature Valley Grand Prix kicks off this Wednesday, June 14, in Minnesota. Rated at 2.2, this is one of the top three stage races in the United States. The field is strong, with squads from Colavita / Cooking Light, TEAm Lipton, Webcor-Platinum and Victory Brewing attending. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the first race in the Women's Prestige Series, 2006.
This year’s edition of the Nature Valley GP has been reconfigured to increase the drama of the fight for the leaders’ jerseys. The races become progressively more vertical as the week wears on, changing the type of rider who will be in contention for the overall winner.
Riverfront Time Trial
begins in downtown Saint Paul with a new 4.5 mile time trial along the
Mississippi River. This is a
relatively flat, out-and-back course with a gradual climb as the riders
approach the turnaround. Look
for the top riders to finish within a few seconds of each other.
Falls is a new host city, but the roads will be familiar to riders who
competed in the Red Wing Road Race last year.
This is a relatively short 60-mile race through rolling countryside.
There is little shelter on much of this course and winds may play a
major factor, as they did last year. However,
with no major climbs and a relatively short course, a field sprint is
Minneapolis Downtown Classic, held in the heart of the entertainment
district, is a sprinter’s paradise. This is a flat, fast L-shaped course with a free outdoor
concert and a huge crowd at the center.
Technical corners and high speeds can favor small breakaways and the
leader’s jersey has changed hands here in the past.
Hard men and women will challenge for the lead at the Mankato Road Race. The course begins in Mankato and then winds through Blue Earth County, with 80 miles of relatively flat riding in wide-open country where wind could be a major factor. The race goes vertical when the riders return to Mankato, entering a challenging 2.3-mile finishing circuit. This circuit includes Main Street Hill, a stair-stepping 0.6 mile climb that averages 14% and is sure to break up the pack. With four laps on this tough circuit, the Mankato Road Race will establish the riders to beat for the overall title.
Dubbed “The Brutal Course in North America”, the Stillwater race is a criterium in name only. This challenging, 1-5 mile circuit features two climbs, including Chilkoot Hill, the climb to the finish that averages 18%. Major chunks of time can be gained or lost in this race, making it the most decisive stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The 2006 pro/elite fields are the strongest yet for this young race, including Olympic Gold Medalist Sarah Ulmer (Jazz Apple) and current and former US National Champions Tina Pic (Colavita / Cooking Light), Christine Thorburne (Webcor-Platinum), Laura Van Gilder and Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton).
Christine Thorburn (Webcor)
Lyne Bessette (Can), Quark
Katie Mactier (Aus), Saturn
Laura Van Gilder, Trek Plus
2001 Suzanne Sonya, Saturn
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