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Clark Makes It Two Wins at Nature Valley Grand Prix

June 19, 2010

by Lyne Lamoureux

Australian Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) did it again at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. In a close three-man sprint, he took the win at the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium ahead of Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia) and Ken Hanson (Team Type 1).

Hilton Clarke (United Healthcare p/b MAXXIS) wore the Wheaties Fuel Sprint jersey in Friday night's Minneapolis Uptown Criterium, Stage 4 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Clarke took first (again) after winning Wednesday's Stage 2 St. Paul Downtown Crit. Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) holds on to the yellow jersey going into Stage 5 of the Grand Prix. Photo by Matt Moses

“Once again, my team did a great job.” said Clarke. “We’ve been saying in team meetings how can this keep happening, somebody’s going to have to try something different.”

Somebody did try something different. The Fly V Australia duo of Kersten and Aaron Kemps came around the leadout train and made their way to the front before that all important final corner. The order going into that final 150-meter straightway was Kemps, Kersten, Clarke and Hanson.

“I just had to keep my composure and I really had to stay calm. I went real hard in the corner and I just waited, I’m lucky it was that long, because one more meter and Kersten would have gotten me,” said Clarke. “I would have much preferred to be first, the other guys used so much energy to be first. I just waited, I just ride on my instincts normally and it was right.”

“Coming into the last corner, it’s so key for positioning because it’s maybe 150 meters to the line but it’s a 40 mph corner, you’re going as fast as you can anyway,” said Hanson. “I came out of the corner fourth wheel, a little too far back and by the time I got on top of my sprint it was already a little too late, I was catching up, making up a little bit of ground, it just wasn’t enough for the finish.”

Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) remains in the yellow leader’s jersey with defending champion Rory Sutherland (United Healthcare p/b Maxxis) still in second place at nine seconds down. With every second counting, the two battled for the time bonuses associated with the intermediate sprints during the race.

The crowds lining the pancake flat one kilometer course with its six tight corners were treated to a show as the action heated up immediately with the riders itching for racing after yesterday’s stage was canceled due to bad weather. The speed was high, the field strung out as attack after attack fired to get a break going. And Zwizanski’s team was quite content to let the right combination up the road to gobble up the time bonus seconds.

A few laps in, 10 riders were off. In the move were Daniel Holloway (BISSELL), Rob Bush (Kenda p/b GearGrinder), David Kemp and Alessandro Bazzana (Fly V Australia), Adam Bergman (Texas Roadhouse), Paul Martin (Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist), Roman Van Uden (Rubicon-ORBEA), Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Adrian Hegyvary (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) and Alexey Shmidt (Team Type 1).

“I got a call up and I was right on the front row and the first move went right from the gun. Half the race was that breakaway.” said Bush.

The riders rode hard at the front but could never get more than 15 seconds on the field with Kelly Benefit feathering the gap. Holloway took the first intermediate bonus at 30 laps to go, followed by Shmidt and Kemp.

The battle for time bonus seconds was on for the second intermediate sprint looming. With 25 laps to go, the United Healthcare squad had enough of the break and took over the front to reel it in with 21 laps to go.

“I was right there, I had Rory on my wheel and I had Hilton’s and he did some sprinter stuff and I couldn’t make it through the corner with speed and luckily Veilleux took that one. Smashed it for that one.” explained Zwizanski. “Veilleux knew that if I wasn’t on his wheel he had to go for it.”

David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit) jumped to protect his teammate’s GC lead and took the sprint followed by Schmidt. Sutherland slotted in for third and got a one-second time bonus.

There was no breather for the pack with attacks and counter-attacks going for the next 10 laps. And Bush was in almost every move.

“We were caught for a little while coming into the second sprint, some guys really went for it and I followed then and I didn’t get any points so I got really mad, so I just attacked,” he explained. He made his way into multiple break attempts for the next 10 laps and was later awarded the Freewheel Most Aggressive jersey for his efforts.

With 11 laps to go, the battle was back on for the last of three sprints. “Everything was back together again and our boys were on the front. We went for it again and I was able to stay in there in the fight. Unfortunately Hilton went for it too, I did the best I could but Veilleux held him off, which was awesome, I held on to get one,” said Zwizanski who took third behind Veilleux and Clarke, nullifying Sutherland’s earlier time bonus.

With eight laps to go, the United Healthcare train took over the pace making at the front with everyone else trying to get on Clarke’s wheel.

“It’s a fight with every other team to get that spot,” explained Hanson. “You never know when they’re going to make it fast enough where it’s too hard to move up and that happened with about two laps to go so I just stayed and waited and waited, two guys back behind. You have to wait for the right moment to make a move, you don’t want to spend too much energy for your sprint so, we tried to stay there in the right position.”

Clarke trusted his instincts and took another win, his second at the race, his third in one week. “I guess I’m on a roll right now so while it’s happening I’ll keep on going,” he smiled.

There were no changes in the jersey competition. Benjamin King (Trek-Livestrong) remains in the lead for the Fruit By The Foot Best Young Rider. Clarke keeps the points jersey and Zwizanski still leads the KOH classification.

The racing continues with the Menomonie (Wisc.) Road Race on Saturday, when for the first time ever the race leaes Minnesota and heads to Wisconsin. Finishing with several three-mile circuits inside the city, the course takes in the challenging rural county roads outside the city that have been a favorite with cyclists of the upper Midwest for years. The men’s road race consists of 95 miles, marked by rolling hills and long climbs that are sure to impact the standings for the entire Nature Valley Grand Prix.

“Tomorrow should be good, supposedly lots of rollers.” said Zwizanski. “It might be windy, we’re looking forwards to a good hard race.”

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Second Professional Win For Hosking at the Minneapolis Uptown Crit; Evans Claims Yellow Jersey

by Cynthia Lou (Nature Valley Bicycle Festival)

Chloe Hosking (HTC-Columbia) captured her second professional stage win at today’s Minneapolis Uptown Criterium. Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) won all three intermediate sprint competitions and took third in the pack sprint to gain an additional 21 seconds worth of time bonuses and secure the yellow jersey.

The race was active, with HTC-Columbia’s Kim Anderson, Emilia Fahlin, and Linda Villumsen seen attacking at the front alongside Team Vera Bradley Foundation, Team TIBCO, and Colavita/Baci. Breakaways only got a few seconds away, and lasted at most one lap. As the time bonus laps were announced, Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 took to the front to deliver Evans to her time bonuses.

“We wanted to make Shelley really work for the sprints so I was jumping long to try to get her to have to go early,” said Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO). “The first two time bonuses I had some long sprints out there, we were jumping before the corner!” Miller captured a total of 16 seconds of time bonus, 10 for taking second in the stage and six additional sprint competition seconds.

“The battle was on today, some different people were going for it, some competitive sprinters,” Evans said about the fierce sprint points competitions, which saw Evans drive all the way to the line to take the wins. “It took a little out of my snap, but you know, big picture always in mind, the team did an amazing job for getting it. We had our goal, we accomplished it and we’re happy.”

With four laps to go, the peloton slowed down and went from strung out to spreading across the width of the road.

“It slowed a bit in the last 3 laps, so it was a bit of jumping from wheel to wheel just to try to stay up front,” said Hosking. “Luckily for me it really picked up in the last lap. We [the team and I] rode the course before, and we thought that going into that last corner – if you were more than second wheel back – your race was over. Coming into the last right hand corner was a bit chaotic. I was second wheel, but it was three people wide. Not ideal, but it worked out!”

“Chloe had a great run on my wheel and flew around me right at the end, timed it perfectly,” said Miller, who drove out of the final corner with a small gap. “There’s a difference between losing and getting beat, and I got beat today, she had a great sprint.” Miller was making an attempt to three-peat at the Minneapolis Criterium, which she won in both 2008 and 2009.

Evans now leads the yellow jersey charge with 19 seconds over the second place Starnes. Villumsen (HTC-Columbia) maintains third, while Ruth Corset (Team TIBCO) moves up to fourth with a one second intermediate sprint time-bonus. Kim Anderson (HTC-Columbia) was awarded the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider Jersey. Evans widens her Wheaties Sprint Jersey lead, Starnes keeps the Fruit By The Foot Best Young Rider Jersey and the Jelly Beans Sport Beans Queen of the Hills Jersey, and Chloe Forsman (Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus) keeps the Nature Valley Top Amateur Rider Jersey.

Chloe Hosking (HTC Columbia) took first in Friday night's Nature Valley Grand Prix Minneapolis Uptown Criterium. Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO) and Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) finished second and third respectively. Evans will wear the yellow jersey in Saturday's Menomonie Road Race. Photo by Matt Moses

Saturday’s Stage 5 Menomonie Road Race in Menomonie, Wisc., is a first for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The 76-mile women’s course is marked by rolling hills and long climbs on a course that is anticipated to shake up the general classification.

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