The first four of the 12 riders on the Nature Valley Pro Ride men’s and women’s teams have been selected, with the next two to be determined in Oregon this weekend.
Women’s qualifiers are Kristen Meshberg of Lyons, Ill., from the Hillsboro-Roubaix Road Race near St. Louis and Monroe, Ga., resident Nancy Jones, from the Rock Hill Spring Bicycle Classic in South Carolina.
Jones, riding for Subaru Gary Fisher Road Cycling Team, is a past Georgia state time trial champion who finished third in that discipline at last year’s USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships. Meshberg rides for the Flatlandia Cycling Team and said she is “super excited” to be part of the Nature Valley Pro Ride.
“What a cool race and what a cool program” Meshberg said. “I also am very appreciative for the opportunities that the Nature Valley Grand Prix provides for women’s cycling. Having a filled women’s field is fantastic.”
Men’s qualifiers are Zach Garrett of Sumter, S.C. and Lawrence, Kan., resident Joseph Schmalz of the Mercy Cycling Team. Garrett races for U.S. Military Cycling. To accept the Nature Valley Pro Ride invitation, he first had to receive permission for time off from his commanders at Shaw Air Force Base.
“Once I told them how prestigious the Nature Valley Grand Prix is, they were all ears and really happy for me,” Garrett said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity. It’s just incredible to allow a composite team to be formed and give amateurs the opportunity to race against the pros.”
Nature Valley Pro Riders who are invited to compete in the Nature Valley Grand Prix earn free entry to the race, generous travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite teams. They also receive pro-level recognition before, during and after the events, including pre-race call-ups and participation in promotional and media appearances.
This weekend marks the next stop on the Nature Valley Pro Ride national tour. The Cherry Blossom Classic presented by Waters Edge Health and Wellness Center takes place Friday through Sunday in the Portland, Ore., area. Qualifiers will be based on the final overall standings in the three-day event that includes a road race, circuit race, time trial and criterium.
The other remaining Nature Valley Pro Ride events are: Barrio Logan Grand Prix/Mark Reynolds San Luis Rey Cycling Classic (May 1-2) in California, Bear Mountain Spring Classic (May 16) in New York and Mt. Hamilton Classic Road Race/Memorial Day Criterium (May 30-31) in California.