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Women’s Prestige Cycling Series Begins at Redlands

March 30, 2011

Minneapolis — New teams and new favorites make this year’s Women’s Prestige Cycling Series wide open when it begins Thursday in California with the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Since 2004, the Series has highlighted women’s racing by giving them a spotlight they do not have to share with men. It is the only national series solely for women and is considered to be the heir apparent to the HP International Women’s Challenge, which ended its 19-year run in 2002.

Last year’s winner, Mara Abbott, returns to defend her individual title, but she will not be supported by her new Diadora Safi-Pasta team. Instead, she will be guest riding for SC Velo-Empower Coaching. Other favorites for the individual title include two-time world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong, who managed Abbott last year as part of the Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 squad. Armstrong, the 2008 Olympic time trial gold medalist and four-time Nature Valley Grand Prix champion, has come out of retirement to ride for Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12. Other individual contenders are Catherine Cheatley (Colavita Forno D’Asolo), who finished third in the Series last year, and former world time trial champion Amber Neben (HTC-Highroad).

Mara Abbott celebrated her lead in the Women's Prestige Cycling Series last year on Father's Day at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (courtesy Stephanie Williams)
Mara Abbott celebrated her lead in the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series last year on Father’s Day at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (courtesy Stephanie Williams)

Neben’s teammate, Amanda Miller, is the favorite for the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series Best Young Rider competition. An alumna of the Nature Valley Grand Prix’s Collegiate All Star team, Miller was runner-up at the San Dimas Stage Race, the traditional tune-up for Redlands. The 25-year-old is also the only rider who retains her age eligibility from the top five of last year’s Best Young Rider classification.

The Series Sprint classification is wide open. Last year’s champion, Carla Swart, was killed in a training accident in January, while runner-up Shelley Olds is racing in Europe. Third-place finisher Carmen Small (Team TIBCO/To The Top) may be challenged by Cheatley or Abbott, particularly if they are not contesting the individual title.

On paper, HTC-Highroad is the favorite to unseat 2010 team champion Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12. While HTC-Highroad is stacked with talent, Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 has lost Olds (to Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan) and Abbott. However, Armstrong’s return from retirement may well fill that gap. Other teams that could be in contention include Colavita Forno D’Asolo and Team TIBCO/To The Top.

2011 Women’s Prestige Cycling Series Teams:

Colavita Forno D’Asolo
Danbury Audi
HTC-Highroad
Missing Link Coaching Systems-Specialized
NOW-MS Society
Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12
Primal/MapMyRide
SC Velo-Empower Coaching
Team Juvederm
Team Rouse
Team Kenda presented by GEARGRINDER
Team TIBCO/To The Top
Vanderkitten-Focus
Webcor Alto Velo

About the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series

The only only national-level competition produced by women for women features four races in its eighth year. Its origin can be traced back to a discussion at the 2003 Women’s Cycling Summit Conference, held at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Since then, more than 30 teams have participated in some of the United States’ top races from coast to coast. Following the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California (March 31-April 3), the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series travels to New Mexico for the SRAM Tour of the Gila (April 27-May 1), continues with the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota (June 15-19) and wraps up with the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic (July 19-24) in Oregon.

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Tradition-Rich Women’s Prestige Cycling Series Returns For Eighth Year

March 1, 2011

Minneapolis — The Women’s Prestige Cycling Series opens team registration for its eighth season as strong as ever, with all four stage races returning from 2010.

The Series is the only national-level cycling competition solely produced for women, by women. Its origin can be traced back to a discussion at the 2003 Women’s Cycling Summit Conference, held at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Since then, more than 30 teams have participated in some of the United States’ top races from coast to coast.

“We set out to create a focused series that women’s teams could build their seasons around,” said Women’s Prestige Cycling Series co-founder Giana Roberge, who will be directing Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 this year. “The National Racing Calendar just had too many events and had became a competition about who had the biggest travel budget. We wanted a series all women’s teams could equally take ownership of while leveling the playing field.”

The Series begins with the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California (March 30-April 3), travels to New Mexico for the SRAM Tour of the Gila (April 27-May 1), continues with the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota (June 15-19) and wraps up with the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic (July 19-24) in Oregon.

Team TIBCO To The Top Manager/Directeur Sportif Lisa Hunt said the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series adds a great deal of prominence and attention to women’s cycling.

“Having a women’s-only series does a great deal to enhance the sport, and get it out a bit from the shadow of the men’s side of the sport,” Hunt said. “I think you can see that effect in the improvement in quality of the racing here in the U.S. Just look at the recent success of U.S. women on the road in some of the biggest races internationally and you can see how the WPCS has contributed to that growth in talent, and in the talent pool.”

All four races are part of USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC). The Nature Valley Grand Prix has been a part of every Women’s Prestige Cycling Series while the Redlands Classic is in the line-up for the seventh time in eight years. The Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic has been part of the past three Series, while the SRAM Tour of the Gila returns for the second straight year.

The Women’s Prestige Cycling Series is open only to teams, but individual riders can either form a team or join one that will be participating. For more information and rules, visit www.WomenCyclists.com. Deadline for teams to submit their original rosters and be eligible to compete in the Series’ first event is March 29.

Four separate competitions comprise the Series: top overall individual, best young rider, best sprinter and top team. Special jerseys, provided by custom clothing manufacturer Champion System, will identify the leaders in the first three classifications.

Defending champions of the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series are Mara Abbott (top individual and best young rider) and Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 (best team). The late Carla Swart won the best sprinter competition last year.

Additional information for the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series can be obtained by sending an e-mail to wpcs2011@gmail.com.

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