January 31, 2006 – Officials with the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival have released the schedule for the 2006 Nature Valley Grand Prix. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is ranked in the top three professional cycling competitions in the United States. In 2005, the event hosted more than 300 national and international competitors and drew more than 50,000 spectators.
The 2006 event schedule includes:
Wednesday, June 14: Saint Paul Riverfront Time Trial
Thursday, June 15: Cannon Falls Road Race
Friday, June 16: Minneapolis Downtown Classic
Saturday, June 17: Mankato Road Race
Sunday, June 18: Stillwater Criterium
“The 2006 schedule has been designed to increase competition for the leaders’ jerseys,” says Race Director David LaPorte. “Last year’s Time Trial was won by US National Champion Chris Baldwin. We expect to host national, world and Olympic cycling champions again this year.” Past competitors in the Nature Valley Grand Prix have included 2005 World Champion Katie Mactier of Australia, and 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist Marty Nothstein.
New to the schedule in 2006 will be Thursday’s Cannon Falls Road Race on June 15th. This stage will feature a rolling course leading to a relatively flat finishing circuit and will probably end with a mass sprint. The following day is the popular Minneapolis Downtown Classic, a criterium (or circuit race) during which racers can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour around downtown city blocks. The Mankato Road Race has moved to Saturday in 2006, and is a flat rural route ending in a hilly circuit. On the final day in Stillwater, cyclists face a course that includes brutal Chilkoot Hill, the finishing climb that averages an 18% grade.
“The teams are excited about these changes”, said Jelly Belly Cycling’s manager Danny Van Haute. “Cannon Falls and Minneapolis should favor the sprinters, but the climbers will take over in Mankato and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a tough race and it gets better every year.”
About the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival
The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival is a five-day celebration of bicycling and the bicycle culture in Minnesota. The 2006 events will take place on June 14 — 18 in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Mankato and Stillwater. In addition to the Nature Valley Grand Prix professional stage race, the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival includes amateur racing, Caribou Coffee kids’ fun races, family activities, live music, stunt rider demonstrations, great food and lifestyle expos.
Proceeds from the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival benefit programs at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the largest children’s health care organization in the upper Midwest. These donations increase the quality of life for children and their families by helping to provide services that would not normally be covered by insurance. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has been the Festival’s charitable partner since 2003.
About Great River Energy
Great River Energy is a non-profit electric cooperative providing wholesale electric energy and related services to 28 distribution cooperatives serving nearly 1.5 million people in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Headquartered in Elk River, MN, Great River Energy is the second largest utility in Minnesota and the fifth largest utility of its type in the country.
About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products.
About USA Cycling
USA Cycling is the national governing body of the sport of bicycle racing, and lists the Nature Valley Grand Prix among the country’s top three stage races on its National Racing Calendar.