Thirteen amateur cyclists have been chosen to compete against the pros at the Nature Valley Grand Prix – one of the top professional bike races in America. Six men and seven women will be brought to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the five day stage race and receive team support, clothing, travel stipends, mechanics, and lodging from a sponsorship from Nature Valley Granola Bars. They’ll attend a training camp prior to the race, learn how to race as cohesive, composite teams and work on team tactics with the guidance of an international cycling coach.
“It will be a learning experience to ride with the pros, but I hope to place well in the criteriums, said Trina Jacobson, who earned her selection after taking a few years off the bike to dedicate time to a new baby. The team is composed of a diverse group of amateur athletes, ranging in ages from 21-35, and includes an attorney, aerospace engineer, defense company project manager, and a ski shop technician.
Each racer was selected based on their finish at one of six Nature Valley Pro Chase events or by coach’s selection. The seven women racers are:
Lindsay Bayer, Reston, VA
Erin Burton, Mount Pleasant, SC
Bri Clark,Carmel, IN
Trina Jacobson, San Diego, CA
Cat Johnson, Boulder, CO
Joy McCulloch, Redlands, CA
Brianna Walle, Beaverton, OR
Tyler Brandt, Fairfax, CA
Pete Custer, Hampton, VA
Evan Fader, Raleigh, NC
Connor McCutcheon, Big Bear Lake, CA
Tony Olson, Mankato, MN
James Stangeland, Seattle, WA
“This is a great opportunity for an unknown like myself, ” said Connor McCutcheon who just recently took up cycling to stay fit for ski racing.
“I’m realistic about my GC (general classification) chances, but I am looking for a stage win or at least a good result in a stage,” said Evan Fader, a former hockey player who qualified at the RBC Tour de Moore.
“Nature Valley gives amateur riders a chance to push the envelope,” said Nature Valley Cycling Team head coach Michael Engleman, a former pro himself, “The Nature Valley Pro Chase has been a ticket to the professional ranks for a number of amateur riders. Current pro’s who came through this program include Jade Wilcoxson, Anna Barensfeld (both Optum Pro Cycling) and Alison Tetrick Starnes (Exergy Twenty12).”
Most riders qualified at one of six Nature Valley Pro Chase races across the country, including the Tour of Murrieta in San Diego, CA; the Jefferson Cup in Charlottesville, VA; the RBC Tour de Moore in Southern Pines, NC; the Superior Morgul Classic, in Boulder, CO; the San Jose Omnium in San Jose, CA; and the Memorial Weekend Omnium in the Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa. Two riders were selected by Coach Engleman based to their consistent finishes and recognizable talent.