NRC: New women's leader after Nature Valley Grand Prix
The five-day Nature Valley Grand Prix throughout the Twin Cities region of Minnesota took center stage on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC). Stellar racing stormed the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul from June 13-17, resulting in a new leader and tight margins throughout the NRC standings.
Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) grabbed the lead following the opening stage time trial and did not relinquish it. Small strung together top-five finishes throughout the competition to collect 400 points in the standings and assume the top spot in the NRC women's standings by 264 points. Jade Wilcoxson (Talent, Ore./Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), who finished third in Minnesota, moved from fourth in the previous standings into second place, overtaking Amber Neben (Lake Forest, Calif./Specialized-lululemon) and Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS). Neben, who was nominated to the U.S. Olympic team on Friday, finished 12th overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix and now sits third, 53 points behind Wilcoxson. Powers slipped into fourth place, 35 points ahead of fifth-place Megan Guarnier (Mountain View, Calif./Team TIBCO-To the Top).
Bolstered by stellar racing by Small and Wilcoxson, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies' lead grew to 1,005 points atop the NRC women's team standings with only three women's events remaining on the calendar. Exergy Twenty12, which sat in third place in the previous standings, overtook Team TIBCO-To the Top to assume second place. Team TIBCO-To the Top slipped one spot into third place, 35 points behind Exergy Twenty12. NOW and Novartis for MS is in fourth place, 398 points out of third and 355 points ahead of fifth-place FCS-Rouse p/b Mr. Restore.
After sitting out the last two races, the men returned to the fray at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. With only three events remaining for the men on the NRC this year, points are at a premium. Similar to the women's contest, Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Colo./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) grabbed the early lead and held on to it through the final finish line.
Zirbel's win in Minnesota was not enough to overtake Francisco Mancebo (ESP/Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) as the leader of the NRC men's standings. Mancebo's lead over second-place Rory Sutherland (AUS/UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) is 236 points. Chad Beyer (Tucson, Ariz./Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) remains in third place, 41 points behind Sutherland and 18 points ahead of Zirbel. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Watsonville, Calif./Bissell Cycling), who finished second to Zirbel at the Nature Valley Grand Prix by 17 seconds, rounds out the top five, 46 points behind Zirbel.
The effort from the Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies' riders chipped 253 points off its deficit in the NRC men's team standings. Competitive Cyclist Racing Team's cushion atop the standings is down to 198 points from 451 following the SRAM Tour of the Gila. Bissell Cycling is 229 points out of second place and 68 points ahead of fourth-place Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder. Bontrager-Livestrong Team rounds out the top five, 267 points out of fourth place.
Check out a photo gallery of pictures from the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
USA Cycling NRC Standings:
For complete standings, visit the NRC's official webpage at usacycling.org/nrc.
The eighth of 11 NRC stops, the Cascade Classic Stage Race in Bend, Ore., from July 17-22 is next on the NRC.
- NRC: Liberty Classic tightens womens standings - Jun 04, 2012
- NRC: Powers motors to top of womens standings after Exergy Tour - May 29, 2012
- NRC: New womens leader while Mancebos lead grows atop standings - May 08, 2012
This Article Updated June 18, 2012 @ 04:41 PM For more information contact: