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U.S. Racing This Week: Harlem track racing, Nature Valley headline full weekend

2010 Harlem criterium. Germans Christian Grasmann (leading) and Leif Lampater broke away from the field at the 2010 edition of the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic and finished 1-2, respectively.
Germans Christian Grasmann (leading) and Leif Lampater broke away from the field at the 2010 edition of the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic and finished 1-2, respectively.

Father’s Day weekend is busy across the country with the National Racing Calendar and USA CRITS series in action, urban track racing on display in New York City, and the historic Nevada City Classic in California.

As we reported earlier this week, the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic will air live on VeloNews.com Sunday afternoon. Promoter John Eustice, who led the first U.S. squad, Gianni Motta, to take part in the Giro d’Italia in 1984, changed the format for the 38-year-old race this year. He’ll take standard track disciplines to the streets of Harlem with a limited field of elite riders, including six champion European trackies and U.S. Olympian Bobby Lea.

Live racing on VeloNews.com



Nature Valley Grand Prix Uptown Minneapolis Criterium
Women 6:15 pm CDT; Men 7:45 pm CDT.


NVGP Stillwater Criterium
Women: 11:45 am CDT; Men 1:30 pm CDT

Harlem Skyscraper Classic presented by Rock Star Games
Points race 4 p.m. EDT; Elimination 5:10 pm EDT; keirin 6 pm EDT

With a points and elimination race, the David Walker omnium, named after the NYPD officer who founded the race, is the top shelf event of the day. With a break between races for the Harlem Cup Kid’s Final Race, Lea will face off against two charity squads riding for the I Challenge Myself and Transportation Alternatives bike education organizations.

“The race format is appealing and the competition at this event is always deep. As a pro cyclist you travel and race around the globe, but having the chance to race in New York City is one of those unique opportunities you simply can’t pass up,” said Lea. “I look forward to lining up against some of the best track riders in the world, as events like this are critical to my preparation for the London games next summer.”

Those track riders will include Swiss Franco Marvulli, a four-time world champion with 32 six-day wins, Austria’s Andreas Müller, an eight-time national champion and two-time World Cup winner and two-time national champion and six-time six-day winner Leif Lampater of Germany.

A kierin exhibition, most likely with 15 riders according to Eustice, will follow the omnium and all of it will air live at VeloNews.com/live

Nature Valley Grand Prix
Twin Cities, Minnesota
June 15-19

If Wednesday and Thursday were any indication, it’s all over but the shouting for the men in Minnesota at theNature Valley Grand Prix. UnitedHealthcare appears to have the race sewn up — and a good shot at sweeping every stage. Rory Sutherland ceded the leader’s jersey to teammate Robert Förster on bonus seconds Thursday, a day after the German was third behind Jake Keough and Hilton Clarke in a podium sweep of the second stage.

If they are to beat back the blue and white of UHC, who only gained official entry to the race last week with a last-minute UCI exemption, the domestic squads will have to work together and play error-free tactics. With Tom Zirbel (Jamis-Sutter Home), Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Frank Pipp (Bissell) within striking distance, the Continental managers will no doubt be chatting in the pit Friday night about how to approach the weekend’s decisive Menomonie Road Race and Stillwater Criterium.

Four-time women’s champion Kristin Armstrong takes the leader’s jersey into day three, but HTC-Highroad and Diadora-Pasta Zara will continue to try and expose Armstrong with relentless attacks. HTC’s Evelyn Stevens sits second overall and is capable of pulling enough time in Stillwater if she can repeat her 2010 stage win atop Chilkoot Hill.

Tour of America’s Dairyland presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Wisconsin, Illinois
June 16-26

In its third year, ToAD has attracted its strongest field ever and guys like Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia) and returning overall champions Jim Stemper and Chad Hartley (Kenda-5-hour Energy). Highlights include the Giro d’Grafton June 18 (see below), the winding Greenbush Road Race June 20 and ISCorp Downer Classic on June 25. Isaac Howe (Kenda) and Kristen LaSasso (Mellow Mushroom) won the series opener, drank the milk and donned the Holstein leaders’ jerseys in Shorewood, Wisconsin, Thursday.

Giro d’Grafton
Grafton, Wisconsin
June 18 3:00 p.m. (women) / 6:00 p.m. (men)
60 min. (women) / 90 min. (men)

The third stop on the USA CRITS schedule comes two days into the Tour of America’s Dairyland. Series leader Christian Helmig (Elbowz) and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) should both be in attendance for the twilight race and in the absence of their top rivals should be able to pad their leads.

Nevada City Bicycle Classic
June 19 3-3:50 (pro women); 5-6:30 (pro men)

Held since 1961 on a tortuous course that favors climbers more than sprinters, Nevada City always lives up to its ‘classic’ status. In 2009, Lance Armstrong scored a morale boosting win in the old mining town, ahead of his return to the Tour de France. Last year Bissell’s Ian Boswell took the win ahead of teammate Paul Mach, with an unattached Floyd Landis fourth.

Neither Boswell, Armstrong or Landis are expected this year, but Mach is registered, as is 2010 women’s winner Katerina Nash (Luna).

Other riders to watch are Mt. Hood Stage Race overall winner Nate English (Yahoo!), California Giant’s John Bennet, Tyler Brandt and Evan Huffman, and Chipotle’s Kirk Carlson.

Nash will have to contend with Webcor’s Holly Liske and a squad from the Touchstone Climbing team.

Harlem Skyscraper Classic presented by Rock Star Games
Harlem, New York
June 19 4:00 p.m. (points race) / 5:10 p.m. (elimination) / 6:00 p.m. (keirin)

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