Interesting battle is shaping up in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday for the 4th Grand Cycling Classic presented by Herman Miller. One team, the defending team, is sponsored by Grand Rapids-based BISSELL. Another team includes a Tasmanian who won in 2007 and now resides in Grand Rapids. They will meet on a 1.2-km 6-corner circuit through the historic brick streets of downtown, and for the first time this year, the race is also on the NRC schedule for both men and women.
Hometown team BISSELL Pro Cycling will be leaving nothing to chance as they will start the maximum 10 riders, including Frank Pipp, Kyle Wamsley, Patrick Bevin, Daniel Holloway, New Zealand criterium champion Pete Latham and Grand Rapids native David Williams. Last year, Tom Zirbel jumped away from a 2-man break to take the win.
“We are ready to defend our title at this weekend’s Grand Cycling Classic. This is our home turf,” said team manager Glen Mitchell. “We have solid sponsorships in West Michigan – BISSELL, Kellogg, Advantage Benefits, Employment Group and Merrell. They will be watching us, so we have to keep our own eyes on another victory.”
The sprinter from Tasmania, Karl Menzies will be part of a 4-man UnitedHealthcare squad, with Hilton Clarke, Jake Keough and Brad White.
“The Grand Classic is one of those rare opportunities to race close to home, in front of friends and family,” said Menzies. “I won the Classic in 2007 before I moved here, and now that I live here, it gives me even more incentive to get another win.”
Since Clarke joined the roster in early June, the team has won every race they entered, 5-or-5. Will the streak continue?
Jake Rytlewski of Kenda presented by Geargrinder, is returning to Grand Rapids and looking to improve upon his 2nd place finish in 2009. “I was able to get myself in the winning break last year,” said Rytlewski, who hails from Bay City, MI. “I think this course suits me well, and it’s great to be racing back in my home state at an NRC event like this.” Kenda is bringing in a 7-man squad that includes overall Tour of the Dairyland winner James Stemper.
Also in the mix are NRC leader Luis Amaran with only one Jamis/Sutter Home teammate Alejandro Borrajo and the Fly V Australia squad which includes Jonathan Cantwell and Ben Kersten.
The pre-registered women’s field is small but it should still be a fun race. Brooke Miller will lead a 4-rider Team TIBCO/To the Top squad with recently re-crowned U23 criterium national champion Samantha Schneider, Meredith Miller and Joanne Kiesanowski.
“Though we only have four riders for the Grand Classic, it’s still a very strong squad, and well balanced with our two sprinters supported by Meredith and Jo,” said team directeur sportif Emma Rickards.
Also fighting for the top step will be overall winner of Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci p/b Cooking Light), Carrie Cash (Team VBF) and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).
The women start at 1:50pm EST and race for 45 minutes, the men at 4:15 pm for 90 minutes. (See list of pre-registered riders).