The first two of six races of the Nature Valley Pro Ride begin next weekend with the Hillsboro-Roubaix (Illinois) Road Race April 10 near Saint Louis, and the Rock Hill Spring Races April 10-11 in South Carolina, near Charlotte, N.C.
Like its namesake, the fabled Paris-Roubaix classic in France, Hillsboro-Roubaix favors hardy, experienced riders due to its short, sharp climbs, twisting descents and long, open sections where the wind can be a major factor. But the race’s signature feature is its brick roads. Like the pavé of Paris-Roubaix, Hillsboro-Roubaix is often decided on the old-style streets that take their toll on riders and their equipment.
“Despite the challenges of this course – or perhaps because of them – Hillsboro-Roubaix is enormously popular,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. “That was a major factor in its selection for a second straight year.”
While the Rock Hill Spring Races are a new addition to the Nature Valley Pro Ride, they have been a fixture on the Southeastern racing scene for years. Like Hillsboro-Roubaix, the 30-year event is enormously popular. The Nature Valley Pro Ride will play out as a two-day omnium, with racers contesting the Patriot’s Trail Road Race Saturday and the Winthrop Lake Criterium on Sunday.
“With omnium scoring, the Rock Hill Spring Races will select the best all-around rider, which is a perfect fit for the event they will qualify for,” LaPorte said. “The Nature Valley Grand Prix is unique on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar because it is designed to specifically appeal to spectators by including three criteriums and uses finishing circuits at the ends of the two road races.”
Chris Winn, who qualified for the Nature Valley Pro Ride Team last year, said he drove 13 hours from Colorado just to compete in Hillsboro-Roubaix.
“It was a long way to go for a for a weekend suffer-fest,” Winn said. “But it was well worth it for an amateur like me to get the complete pro package treatment and race for a composite team in the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June.”
Riders who fail to qualify at the Hillsboro-Roubaix and the Rock Hill Spring Races will have four more opportunities. The other stops on the Nature Valley Pro Ride are:
Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic (April 23-25), Oregon: A multi-stage race (four races in three days) set in the Portland area, the Nature Valley Pro Ride invitation will be based on the final overall standings.
Bear Mountain Spring Classic (May 16), New York: Set in Harriman State Park, the second largest state park in New York, this 98-mile road race for men and 56-mile race for women is promoted by the Century Road Club Association, one of the oldest bicycle racing clubs in the nation.
Barrio Logan Grand Prix/Mark Reynolds San Luis Rey Cycling Classic (May 1-2), California: The two days of racing in the San Diego area include a 75-minute criterium for the men and a 50-minute criterium for the women, followed by an 88-mile road race for men and a 59-mile road race for women.
Mt. Hamilton Classic Road Race/Memorial Day Criterium (May 30-31), California: One of the longest running bike races in San Jose, Calif., the road race (63.5 miles for men, 63.5 miles for women) climbs 4,500 feet in 20 miles over Mt. Hamilton, the highest peak in the Bay area, on a course that is part of the 2010 Tour of California. The criterium is run over a one-mile course in the Morgan Hill Business Park. This will be the amateurs’ last chance to qualify for the 2010 Nature Valley Pro Ride.