The first man and woman have been selected for the Nature Valley Pro Ride and two more riders will be set at this weekend’s Tour of the Depot in Utah, April 9-10.
Louise Smyth, an elementary school teacher from Shreveport, La., and Scott Simmons, a senior technician at a communications company in Cleburne, Texas, are the first qualifiers for the Nature Valley Pro Ride. The pair punched their tickets to the Nature Valley Grand Prix at the Fayetteville (Texas) Stage Race near Austin on March 19-20.
The Nature Valley Pro Ride is cycling’s version of “American Idol.” The top amateur in the Men’s Pro/Category 1 race and the winner of the Women’s Open category at the Tour of the Depot will be a part of eight-rider teams for the Nature Valley Grand Prix, June 15-19, in East Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
The Tour of the Depot is a three-stage, two-day race based in Tooele, Utah, about 35 miles west of Salt Lake City.
“We are beyond thrilled to be a part of the Nature Valley Pro Ride – both as an event and as a racing community,” Tour of the Depot promoter Jeremy Smith said. “Our event is relatively young (in its fourth year), but it was designed to be a challenging spring classic that would become a racer favorite. It’s been amazing to see it grow through the years, and to be selected for the Nature Valley Pro Ride not only pleases me as the race director, but also as a fellow racer who knows there is a lot of untapped potential here in Utah.”
Men race 90 miles on Saturday and 40 miles on Sunday, while women race 62 miles Saturday and 25 on Sunday. Saturday’s nine-mile time trial for both men and women is run in the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains.
“Saturday’s road race has always been won by a small break group – it’s just a matter of who wants to be up there most and who can hang with it,” Smith said. “For the time trial, less than 10 percent of the course is on flat roads. Sunday’s circuit race is a local favorite, run on some of the same roads as the time trial. But we’ve moved the finish to the uphill side of the course, though on a flatter section of road, so there will still be a fast and highly-contested sprint.”
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: www.NatureValleyProRide.com
The Nature Valley Pro Ride schedule was revised following last month’s postponement of the Jefferson Cup. Here are the remaining events and dates: Sterling Road Race, Boston (May 7); Jefferson Cup, Charlottesville, Va., (May 8); Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race, Seattle (May 21-22); Quad Cities, Iowa and Illinois (May 28-30).