Posted by Editoress on 06/3/08
Women's Field Fills at the Nature Valley Grand Prix
For the first time in its history, the women's field at Minnesota's Nature Valley Grand Prix, part of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival, has filled and registration has been closed early. At 145 riders, the Nature Valley Grand Prix field is likely to be the largest women's race of the year, compared with 140 for the Montreal World Cup, 120 for the Liberty Classic and 84 for the Mount Hood Classic.
The women's field of riders has grown drastically since 1999, the first year of this race, when Category 4s were admitted to the race in order to field a grand total of 19 riders. The breakthrough year for the Nature Valley Grand Prix came in 2003, when the Hewlett Packard International Women's Challenge, which had been scheduled on the same dates, was discontinued and the teams that planned to attend that prestigious event added the Nature Valley Grand Prix as their “Plan B” race. The women's race, which is now limited to professionals and Category 1 and 2 amateurs, has shown strong, steady growth ever since.
Nature Valley Grand Prix director David LaPorte attributes this growth in the women's field to the fact that this event is a showcase for women's racing.
“We host the Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit annually and then give the women's race prime time slots all week,” said LaPorte. “We're the organizers of the Women's Prestige Cycling Series, have women-only programs like the Ryan Collegiate All-Stars and our media relations efforts put equal emphasis on the women's race. We're living proof that the women will support the races that support them.”
The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the signature event of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival. The race kicks off on Wednesday, June 11, with the Downtown Saint Paul Criterium before visiting Cannon Falls, Minneapolis and Mankato, then finishing with the legendary Stillwater Criterium on Sunday, June 15.
Visit www.MinnBikeFest.com for more information.
About the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival and Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival, now in its 10th year, is one of the nation's top celebrations of the bicycle culture, with tens of thousands of cycling enthusiasts, pro athletes and avid recreational riders converging in Minnesota each June. The MN Fixed Gear Classic held at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, Minn., is a prelude to the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival. The Festival's professional road racing event, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, began as a one-day criterium in Saint Paul in 1999. Ranked as the premier stage race on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, the 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix schedule includes stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Mankato, and Stillwater. The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival is a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival's benefiting charity.
Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit Agenda Announced
Annual conference on women's cycling includes the introduction of the
Ryan Collegiate All-Star and Nature Valley teams to compete in the
Nature Valley Grand Prix
On Tuesday, June 10, cyclists from across the country will gather at the Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit from 6:30 - 9 p.m. at the I-35W Holiday Inn in Bloomington to continue charting the future of women's cycling. Part of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival, the Summit is an opportunity for women to celebrate women's cycling, learn about the latest initiatives in their sport and discuss issues of common concern.
The conference will begin with two team presentations. The Nature Valley Women's Cycling Team will have been selected for the Nature Valley Grand Prix using qualifier races in California, Missouri and Pennsylvania, a first-of-its-kind program titled the Nature Valley Pro Ride. The Ryan Collegiate All-Stars, a women's team selected for the Nature Valley Grand Prix at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships, is in its second year and this team will also be introduced.
Presentations and panel discussions at the 2008 Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit include:
• Keynote address: The U.S. National Team program and the prospects for U.S. women at the Beijing Olympics. Jim Miller, head of endurance programs for USA Cycling.
• How riders move up each rung of the ladder, from local racing to the pro ranks. Panelists will include two leaders in the Minnesota women's cycling community: Paula Plant, Verve Cycling and coordinator of the entry-level Midwest Women's Cycling Made Real, and Paula Bohte, Minneapolis Bicycle Racing Club. They will be joined by Paul Forsythe, director of the nationally based Team Kenda Tire development program, and Nicola Cranmer, director of Proman Cycling, a professional team that includes both road and track cyclists. The panel will be moderated by USA Cycling's Jim Miller.
• How teams can return value to their sponsors throughout the season. Panelists will include Dan Stangler, Wheaties brand manager; Stephanie Scott, events marketing manager from the Jelly Belly Candy Company; Ron Kadera, owner of County Cycles; and Katie Mattis, an account manager at RPM Connect, a national marketing agency based in Minneapolis with many major brands on its client list. Panel will be moderated by Valory Gilpin, marketing director for Rasmussen College.
A special feature of the 2008 Rasmussen College Women's Cycling Summit is the invitation of area women racers who participated in a local criterium race earlier that evening. Following the State Fairgrounds Criterium, which will run from 5:15 - 5:55 PM, amateur racers will board the Freewheel Bike Party Bus and shuttle to the Summit.
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