The Nature Valley Pro Ride – cycling’s version of “American Idol” – begins its 2011 talent search for the nation’s top amateur men and women on March 19-20 at the Fayetteville (Texas) Stage Race near Austin.
The top amateur in the Men’s Pro/Category 1 race and the winner of the Women’s Open category from the 13th annual edition of the two-day, three-stage race will compete on the composite Nature Valley Cycling Team in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place on June 15-19 in East Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
The Nature Valley Pro Ride has written a host of success stories with its path to the pros. By starring at the Nature Valley Grand Prix as amateurs, riders such as Alison Starnes (recent winner of the Merco Cycling Classic), Sue Butler (2011 cyclocross world championship qualifier) and Chris Winn (neo-pro for V Australia) caught the eye of professional teams.
With another potential pro possibly emerging from his race, Fayetteville Stage Race promoter James McCowen said he is pleased to be one of the six qualifying events of the Nature Valley Pro Ride.
“We hope that by being selected as one of the qualifying events we will draw in more talent from outside our region to race with us,” McCowen said. “We typically have a very strong Men’s Pro/Category 1 race and are looking to add more top level racers to our field this year.”
The Fayetteville Stage Race consists of a road race (68 miles for men, 46 for women) and a 6.6-mile time trial Saturday, followed by another road race (95 miles for men, 49 for women) on Sunday. Both road races are run on hilly circuits and feature in-race time bonus sprints.
“To win the overall and earn a spot on the Nature Valley Pro Ride team, a racer must be a good time trialist and also be very attentive in the road races because of those precious bonus seconds,” McCowen said. “Texas is known to have a solid base of high-caliber Category 1 racers, as they do very well when they travel and compete outside the region.”
Nature Valley Pro Riders who are invited to compete in the Nature Valley Grand Prix will 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.
More details and a complete set of rules for the qualifying process can be found at:
The remaining Nature Valley Pro Ride events are: 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.