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Evans Finishes The Nature Valley Grand Prix with Yellow Jersey; Stevens Wins Stillwater Criterium

June 21, 2010

by Cynthia Lou

Today was an exciting day in women’s bike racing filled with aggressive attacks throughout the 13 laps of a 1.5 mile criterium race that included the infamous Chilkoot Hill and its 18% average-grade climb. Shelley Evans and her team Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 stamped their determination on the race by driving the tempo from the beginning, eventually landing her in the winning breakaway group ahead of Linda Villumsen (HTC-Columbia), who wore the yellow jersey coming into the stage.

“We had a plan to keep the yellow jersey with Linda [Villumsen],” said René Wenzel, team director for HTC-Columbia. Villumsen started the stage with an 11 second advantage over Evans. “But we also knew it wasn’t her favorite course, the hill was a little too steep so we kept Evelyn as the plan B. The HTC Columbia girls are super happy about having been here. We won three stages – I don’t think we could ask for much more than that.”

“This race is a race of attrition, we knew we needed to make it fast and hard from the beginning” said Evans. “The front of the race is the front of the race, everything behind is just going back. We knew we had to make it hard, not to let people get into a rhythm and put the pressure on from the beginning, push the pressure on over the climb so nobody could get comfortable, so that’s what we did.”

The was a series of attacks from the beginning, with riders from HTC-Columbia, Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12, Colavita/Baci, Team TIBCO, and Webcor Builders at the front.

“We did as much as we could,” said Team TIBCO team director Emma Rickards. Team TIBCO sent many riders up the road on attacks including Meredith Miller, Brooke Miller, and Ruth Corset. “The girls had a great week of racing, with Ali [Starnes] winning the time trial and being in yellow for a couple of days. Criteriums are not her forte, so to see her maintain that jersey was really awesome to see. The girls had some great racing yesterday and today. It was awesome women’s racing to see the yellow jersey change around so much.”

By five laps to go, a five person break with a 12 second lead formed with Evans, Stevens, Villumsen, Erinne Willock (Webcor Builders) and Ruth Corset (Team TIBCO). On the way up Chilkoot Hill with three laps to go, Stevens launched the decisive attack that would set her up for the stage win. By the top of Chilkoot Hill Stevens had a slight three-second lead, and with two laps to go she had a 20 second lead over Catherine Cheatley (Colavita/Baci) and Ruth Corset (Team TIBCO), while Evans and her teammate Mara Abbott were 24 seconds back.

With one lap to go Stevens had 24 seconds on the chase, enough to put her in the virtual yellow. But the toll of being out solo took it’s toll. Evans, supported by her teammates, were able to close the gap down to just 12 seconds by the time they crossed the finish line. Villumsen finished the stage at just over one minute back.

“I’m marking this as number five,” said Kristin Armstrong, team director of Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12, referring to her own previous four victories on the bike, and today’s victory as director.

Last year, Evans was second to Armstrong, who won the Stillwater Criterium and the overall general classification.

In true form, the Nature Valley Grand Prix seems to be the place where professional riders are groomed and leave their stamp on the professional circuit.

This year, Evans stands atop the podium in GC, while Stevens stands atop the podium as the stage winner.

Shelley Evans (center), representing Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12, took advantage of her sprint and climbing abilities to capture the yellow jersey in the 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix. Evelyn Stevens (left), won second riding for HTC Columbia, followed by Ruth Corset, Team TIBCO. Photo by Matt Moses.

“I did this race last year, I think this was my first or second pro-/NRC race,” said Stevens. “It’s nice to see the improvement from a year ago.”

“I raced here in 2008 with the Ryan’s Colegiate All Stars Team,” said Chloe Forsman (Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus), winner of the Nature Valley Top Amateur Rider Jersey.

“This is the first time I’ve finished more than half of this race, so, I’m pretty stoked about that!” Forsman laughed. “I knew it was going to be a matter of how long I could suffer with the group up the hill and then trying to stay together on the false flat and not lose any wheels on the flatter sections.”

Brooke Miller won her first big NRC race at Nature Valley in 2006, “when I was just a pup!” she laughs. “I love [Stillwater]! And you’re talking to someone who, the first two times I raced it, when the officials pulled me off I thanked them. It’s really hard but it’s just so fantastic!”

The final podium included Linda Villumsen in the Fruit By The Foot Best Young Rider Jersey, Team TIBCO atop the best team general classification, Evans in the Wheaties Sprint Jersey, Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) in the Jelly Beans Sport Beans Queen of the Hills Jersey, and Evelyn Stevens in the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider Jersey.


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

June 19, 2010

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.