Nature Valley Gran Prix

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This race came up pretty fast since I’d been keying on it. The race is a 5 day event with 3 criteriums, 2 road races and a 5 mile TT. The races are all pretty good, but the time schedule makes the event a total sleep deprivation event. Two of the criteriums start at 8pm. so it hard to get to sleep anywhere near midnight.

Historically, the road races are super windy. This year was different. Pretty calm, so the fields stayed together until the finish circuits.

I had a pretty good race, other than the time trail. I don’t have a TT bike and have never put much effort into training for it, but that isn’t a good excuse for riding so slow.

Brian, Bill and I all had some major problems. Bill crashed in the Cannon Falls road race and lost 32 minutes. Brian broke two Zip 404’s at the end of the same race. I flatted two sewups, ruined a rear Shimano Carbon wheel and jacked up my frame. But, it could of been worse.

The officials seem to have trouble scoring this event historically. They put me 7 minutes down on Saturday and said I didn’t finish on Sunday. In reality, I was about a minute back on Saturday and finished a couple minutes back on Sunday. Both events finished or were on circuits, so it doesn’t seem that hard to figure out the correct finish order.

The Toyota guys did a pretty good job controlling the races the last two days. They barely had enough power to keep Stevic out of trouble and then he had the power himself to finish it off. Healthnet had the strongest team, but didn’t seem completely synchronized enough to get one of their riders into the lead.

I rode just good enough not to embarrass myself. With all the mechanical/crashes, I didn’t have much of a chance to do too well overall. I finished 9th in the Cannon Falls Road Race, a couple bike lengths back.

Stillwater is the hardest criterium course in the United States. I got tangled up with a Toyota guy on the first lap up the climb and had to run/walk 1/2 mile to the pit to get a new rear wheel. I did manage to stay in the front group until 10 minutes to go and kind of lost motivation and finished by myself a half a lap back. That’s not normal for me, but I’m not dwelling on it. You make decisions during races that sometimes seem really wrong later, but those were the decisions you made at the time. I should of finished in the high 20’s overall if the officials didn’t screw up. That is mainly thru other riders having a bad day and not me ever having a good one.

Brian Jensen didn’t have his best race either. But, he had a good race. He finished 14th overall and 2nd Best Amatuer. A couple years ago he was 3rd Overall, but this was a different race with a much better field. He’s flying over to Denmark Tuesday for the Danish National Road Championship. There are 9 CSC guys in the race, so he’s gonna be at their mercy. He had to send the promoters a copy of his passport to prove he is from Denmark. It’s a good opportunity for him to go home and visit.

Anyway, Dave LaPorte and the guys promoting the race do an excellent job. It one of the best promoted events of the season and I always look forward to racing in the Minneapolis area with it’s huge cycling community.

Below are a couple pictures from Cyclingnews.com and Velonews.com.

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