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Stage One Men’s Race Summary

June 17, 2010

Nature Valley Grand Prix Time Trial Win Goes to Scott Zwizanski
by Lyne Lamoureax

The only rider to break the 13-minute barrier, Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) flew up the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix to win the St Paul Time Trial with a time of 12:55. For Zwizanski, it was all about pacing his efforts on the 6.1-mile course, flat until the finishing half-mile climb.

“I tried to do a good even hard pace on the flat and have enough left to really power up the hill. I did pretty well on this two years ago and I had some memories from that and I just wanted to make sure that I had enough left for the last 500 meters so I wouldn’t die.”

Finishing second, nine seconds behind Zwizanski, is two-time Nature Valley Grand Prix champion (2008 and 2009) Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis). Zwizanski’s teammate Zach Bell sits in third place at 15 seconds back.

The 148 riders this morning were greeted by overcast skies and dead calm as they faced the race of truth. The early best time of 13:27 was set by the 16th rider out of the start ramp, Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home), a time that stood for the next thirty-nine riders when Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) clocked 13:21. Then Zwizanski made his way into the hot seat until the field finished.

“I knew there were a lot of big guns left especially Rory, he beat me a couple of weeks ago at Tour of California. I thought he’d probably beat me again but I came out on top.” said Zwizanski.

For the first time in the race, the organizers enforced the no-aero equipment rule, with riders restricted to mass-start bicycles, with a goal of leveling out the playing field between professional and amateur teams. Zwizanski didn’t feel the new rule changed the results. “I think the best TT guys are still going to be at the top.”

Though his team has defended a leader’s jersey in other races such as Tour de Beauce and Vuelta al Uruguay, Zwizanski knows that he will have his work cut out for him to hold on for the next five stages.

“It’s going to be a hard week, everybody is going to be gunning for us, I have a great team so hopefully we have some options,” added Zwizanski about his teammate Bell sitting in third spot, “It’s going to be a battle all week, it’s not going to be easy at all.”

Finishing tenth on the stage, Benjamin King (Trek-Livestrong) is the new Fruit by the Foot Best Young Rider. His 21st place finish makes Paul Martin (Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist) the Nature Valley Top Amateur.

The racing continues tonight at the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium, in a new location this year on a course full of twists, turns, and even some brick roads. With a total of 30 seconds of time bonus on the line, the action is sure to heat up as the sun sets.

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Nature Valley Grand Prix Announces Changes For Time Trial

April 26, 2010

Minneapolis – This year’s edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix will go “old school,” with a return to Eddy Merckx-style racing for the individual time trial that opens this year’s USA Cycling National Racing Calendar event.

Executive Director David LaPorte said the Nature Valley Grand Prix has opted to invoke a new USA Cycling rule that allows race organizers to specify that “massed-start legal” bicycles are required for time trials. The rule will be enforced for the six-mile (9.6 km) St. Paul Riverfront time trial on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

LaPorte said he doesn’t expect the change to significantly affect the overall results of the five-day, six-stage race.

“The time trial is only six miles and the last mile is an eight-percent climb,” he said. “Also, with the new road race in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the seconds gained or lost in the time trial are likely to be insignificant. Unlike the old Mankato road race, this course will be very hilly, with lots of opportunities for aggressive teams to shatter the pack. If big time gaps don’t form, it will likely be because the teams haven’t taken advantage of the terrain.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix will work with USA Cycling officials to spell out the specific restrictions regarding aero equipment (wheels, helmets, etc.), which will ultimately appear in the race bible.

The decision to prohibit time trial bikes is certainly not unique, as several international races (Tour of Qatar, Tour of Langkawi, etc.) have banned time trial bikes and aero equipment for years. In the U.S., the team time trial stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia featured the same restrictions.

Danny Van Haute, director of the Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Kenda professional men’s team, said the decision to prohibit time trial bikes will level the playing field. “Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t,” he said. “I’ll bet the results will be the same with time trial bikes as they would be without.”

Team Vera Bradley Foundation Director Lisa Hunt said it is disappointing for her team’s bicycle sponsor not to be able to showcase its time trial bikes. “However, in the interest of being fair and equitable for all parties involved, I support the decision,” she said. “Clearly, our strongest time trial riders will be strong on a road bike or a time trial bike. So it’s not like we are at a disadvantage.”

LaPorte said he will poll all women’s and men’s teams after the race – as he has done in previous years – to get an idea of whether the new rule should be retained for 2011.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix

The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com

About Nature Valley

Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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