Only two spots remain to be filled on the Nature Valley Pro Ride women’s and men’s teams for this year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix. Cycling’s version of “American Idol” wraps up with the Quad Cities Memorial Weekend Omnium, which consists of three long-standing criteriums in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.
The top amateur man and woman on the omnium from the Snake Alley Criterium (Saturday), Melon City Criterium (Sunday) and the Modern Woodman Bank Quad City Criterium (Monday) will become part of the composite Nature Valley Cycling Teams for the 13th annual edition of the premier stage race on the 2011 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar.
More details and a complete set of rules for the qualifying process can be found at: www.NatureValleyProRide.com.
Already, the make-up of the two Nature Valley Pro Ride teams is extremely diverse, demonstrating the great lengths that some 9-to-5ers will go to earn a “battlefield promotion” to the Nature Valley Grand Prix, June 15-19.
Jade Wilcoxson, a physical therapist in Talent, Ore., and bike shop owner Scott Gray of Bend, Ore., earned qualifying spots at last weekend’s Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race, a two-day, three-stage event near Seattle.
Amy Miner of Vergennes, Vt., a process improvement engineer, qualified at the Sterling Road Race near Boston, along with Alec Donahue, a cycling coach from Easthampton, Mass.
And Lt. Commander Katy Giles of McLean, Va., a Naval Flight Officer, joined IT consultant Timothy Rugg of Richlands, N.C. as qualifiers from the Jefferson Cup in Charlottesville, Va.
Rugg said earning a spot on the Nature Valley Pro Ride team provides him with an amazing opportunity to race against the top riders in the country. It will also make it hard for him to return to his day job, he said.
“I am mostly looking forward to the exposure opportunity to pro teams that this race provides that will allow me to work towards my goal of securing a pro contract in the future,” Rugg said. “I’m also looking forward to the coaching and full support provided by being on the Nature Valley Pro Ride team for five days. I will get to see what it is like to race on a professional squad where all I have to focus on is racing and recovering.”
Previous qualifiers for the Nature Valley Pro Ride men’s squad include Stefan Rothe (from the Tour of the Depot in Utah) and Scott Simmons (from the Fayetteville, Stage Race in Texas) and women’s team members Laurel Larsen from the Tour of the Depot and Louise Smyth from Fayetteville.
Nature Valley Pro Ride women’s coach Michael Engleman said he is excited to assemble the team at a special training camp in Menomonie, Wis., before this year’s race.
“Each year we get some amazing athletes on the Nature Valley Pro Ride Team and they happen to also be pretty interesting personalities too,” Engleman said. “The addition of a team camp gives the team directors a far better chance to get to know the athletes prior to the racing. It’s a very “pro team” experience for the athletes and a rewarding interaction for me.”
Nature Valley Pro Riders earn free entries to the race, generous travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite teams. They also receive pro-level recognition before, during and after the events, including pre-race call-ups and participation in promotional and media appearances.