The daily excitement and thrilling conclusion to this year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix will be chronicled on CBS Sports Network’s “Sports Spectacular” program. You can find the CBS Sports Network channel in your area by visiting cbssportsnetwork.com.
The event will be televised on:
- Thursday, August 15 – 8:00 PM ET
- Friday, August 16 – 3:00 PM ET
- Saturday, August 17 – 4:00 PM ET
Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies came to the race with the goal of repeating last year’s feat of winning both the men’s and women’s races in their title sponsor’s home town. This would prove easier said than done.
The Nature Valley Grand Prix women’s race was an epic battle between veteran Shelley Olds (TIBCO / To the Top) and second-year pro Jade Wilcoxson (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies), who broke into the pro ranks after riding for the Nature Valley Pro Chase composite team in 2011. Defending champion Carmen Small, who had transferred from Optum to ride for Specialized lululemon, took the yellow jersey in the prologue time trial, but lost it to Wilcoxson at the Downtown Saint Paul Criterium due to time bonus sprints that evening. Subsequent stages saw Olds gradually gaining on Wilcoxson, coming into the final stage in Stillwater a mere 1 second down. Tune in to see the unexpected and thrilling conclusion of the battle for the yellow jersey.
In the men’s race, Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) took the yellow jersey in the prologue and defended it during the Downtown Saint Paul Criterium. However, stage 3, the Cannon Falls Road Race, would prove decisive, with a lead group of 10 and only 28 total riders making it onto the finishing circuits. The rest were given assigned times. The yellow jersey was taken by an unlikely rider from Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies, 30-year old, Michael Friedman, owner of multiple US Track Championships, but no major stage races in this country. He’d be wearing a target on his back until the last day in Stillwater.
Highlights of the men’s race were stage wins by legendry Argentinian sprinter J.J. Haedo (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home), who rode for WorldTour teams Saxo Bank for the past four years and CSC two years before that. Wins at the flat Saint Paul and Minneapolis Criteriums were no surprise, but he had his hands full in Stillwater, where the finish was at the top of the 24% grade Chilkoot Hill that the riders had completed 20 times over the course of an hour.
“Even for fans who attended the races in person or followed the live streams on the internet, this program is a chance to put all of the pieces together,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. “For everyone else, this is an opportunity for them to see some of the best professional cycling in the United States showcased in an hour-long broadcast.”
Photo by Stephanie Williams