Six new events are part of the 2011 Nature Valley Pro Ride, the qualifying races for amateur cyclists to earn a trip to compete against the country’s top men and women professional bicycle racers at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The Nature Valley Pro Ride selects the top amateur man and woman at each race to become part of a pair of composite Nature Valley Cycling Teams for the 13th annual edition of the premier stage race on the 2011 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. This year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix is June 15-19 in East Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
Rider invitations will be issued following each of the six stops on the Nature Valley Pro Ride national tour: Fayetteville Stage Race (March 19-20), near Austin, Texas; Jefferson Cup (March 27), Charlottesville, Va.; Tour of the Depot (April 9-10), Salt Lake City; Sterling Road Race (May 7), Boston; Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race (May 21-22), Seattle; Quad Cities (May 28-30), Iowa and Illinois.
Nature Valley Pro Riders who are invited to compete in the Nature Valley Grand Prix earn free entries to the race, generous travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite teams. They will also receive pro-level recognition before, during and after the events, including pre-race call-ups and participation in promotional and media appearances.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an amateur to receive a ‘battlefield promotion’ to compete with the top professionals,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. ”Since its inception 12 years ago, the Nature Valley Grand Prix has emerged as the top women’s bike racing event and one of the top men’s races in the U.S. The Nature Valley Pro Ride gives top U.S. amateurs a chance race in front of huge crowds, to be noticed by pro team managers and potentially to receive a pro contract.”
Donnie Miller, promoter of the Modern Woodman Bank Quad City Criterium – one of three races that make up the Quad Cities event – said being the last Nature Valley Pro Ride qualifying race makes it even more exciting.
“Those that don’t get in at the other five Nature Valley Pro Ride events have to come to our weekend and do all three races, not just one,” Miller said. “We definitely want to highlight some of our Midwest’s best and give them the shot they deserve. We have some pretty good talent here.”
More details on the qualifying process can be found at: http://www.NatureValleyProRide.com
Snapshot glances of each event:
Fayetteville Stage Race (March 19-20), near Austin, Texas: This three-stage race includes a 68-mile road race for men (48 miles for women) and a 6.6-mile time trial on Saturday. A 95-mile road race for men (49 for women) is the following day. Both road races take place on circuits with rolling hills, while the time trial is also over rolling terrain.
Jefferson Cup (March 27), Charlottesville, Va.: With a 20-year history, this is the oldest continually run road race in the Mid-Atlantic region. The course for the one-day race winds through rolling countryside south of Charlottesville. The race is 70 miles for men and 40 miles for women.
Tour of the Depot (April 9-10), Salt Lake City: The three-stage, two-day race is based in Tooele, Utah, about 35 miles west of Salt Lake City. Men race 90 miles on Saturday and 40 miles on Sunday. Women race 62 miles Saturday and 25 on Sunday. Saturday’s nine-mile time trial is run in the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains.
Sterling Road Race (May 7), Boston: A rolling, eight-mile loop in Sterling, Mass., culminates with a challenging hilltop finish to this 48-mile race for women and 80-miler for the men.
Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race (May 21-22), Seattle: Set near Mt. Rainier National Park, this is the longest running stage race in Washington state. A 6.2-mile time trial Saturday is followed by a 40-minute criterium for women and hour-long for men. Sunday’s road race is 58 miles for women and 72 miles for men on a 14-mile loop featuring a challenging climb.
Quad Cities (May 28-30), Iowa and Illinois: The three days of racing in the Memorial Weekend Omnium consist of three unique criteriums: Snake Alley, Melon City and the Modern Woodman Bank Quad City Criterium. All three have been a fixture on the Midwest racing circuit on Memorial Day weekend for more than 25 years.