For the fourth straight year, amateur cyclists from around the United States will have the chance to compete against professionals at the Nature Valley Grand Prix through the Nature Valley Pro Ride.
The official selection process to gain a spot on the men’s and women’s composite teams begins with entry into one of the Nature Valley Pro Ride events, which will be announced in January.
To be considered for the Nature Valley Pro Ride, a race must be permitted through USA Cycling and take place no later than June 5. More details and a downloadable application can be found at www.naturevalleyproride.com. Entry deadline is Dec. 1.
One rider who knows the path from Nature Valley Pro Ride amateur to professional is Alison Starnes. In 2008, the Mill Valley, Calif., resident was competing on the women’s Nature Valley composite team. Two years later, the Team TIBCO/To the Top rider was donning the yellow leader’s jersey after winning the prologue of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
“This was my first pro race,” Starnes said. “I had just upgraded from Category 4 earlier that year (in 2008), and the experience was a little traumatic. I just remember it was hard!”
This year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix is expected to take place June 15-19 in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. In 2011, it will again be one of the top events on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC).
Amateur racers (Category 1 men and Category 1 and 2 women) who qualify at a Nature Valley Pro Ride event receive a “battlefield promotion” that provides them free entry to the Nature Valley Grand Prix, travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite team.