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By Steve Kay
The second stage of Great River Energy’s Nature Valley Grand Prix ended as expected, with some of the most talented and most experienced female riders in the world in a mad sprint for the finish.
In the end, though, it was a rookie and a local amateur who stood atop two of the three podium places.
Palo Alto Bicycle Works/TIBCO’s Brooke Miller seized the moment to capture the 58.6-mile Cannon Falls Road Race, ahead of Jazz Apple Cycling’s Sarah Ulmer and local women’s legend and Flanders/MBRC racer Teresa Moriarty.
An overjoyed Miller was at a loss after the race. She screamed after crossing the finish line and came back to the line to hug her coach and teammates.
“I’m speechless, this is amazing. To be a first year rider and to win a race of this magnitude is amazing,” Miller said. “Especially going against women like Tina Pic, who showed me that it is never too old to get started in the sport.”
The 29 year-old Miller, was also quick to praise her teammates and mentor.
“Linda Jackson and the whole TIBCO team are amazing, I couldn’t have won this without them,” she said.
Moriarty, a dominating force on the local women’s racing scene and also known to race and beat the men in some of their races, was a bit more subdued with her third place finish.
“It truly is a pleasure to race in world class event like this, right in here in Minnesota,” said the 5th grade school teacher from Plymouth.
While Pic’s name was mentioned at the end, it was the only presence she had at the finish with the leader’s group as she and other sprinters and GC hopefuls were left behind because of crashes and strong crosswinds. A major crash less than 10 miles into the event cut off several strong racers, including Alison Powers who entered the day third overall.
Among 17 riders in the lead group were race leader TEAm Lipton’s Kristin Armstrong and teammate Kori Seehafer, and defending Nature Valley Grand Prix Champion Christine Thorburn of Webcor/Platinum Builders. The lead group’s advantage over the rest of the field eventually ballooned from 20 seconds to well over 3 minutes.
Thursday’s action earned Seehofer the SportsPro Most Aggressive Rider Jeresy, while Webcor/Platinum’s Erinne Willock retained her BMC Best Young Rider Jersey and moved into third overall, behind Armstrong and Thorburn.
The Great River Energy Bike Festival’s Nature Valley Grand Prix continues Friday with the Minneapolis Downtown Classic.
1. Brooke Miller PABW Powered by TIBCO 2:38:03 2. Sarah Ulmer Jazz Apple Cycling Team3. Teresa Moriarty Flanders/MBRC4. Kristin Armstrong TEAm Lipton, at 0:01 5. Rebecca Larson * Aaron’s Pro Women’s Cycling … 6. Sue Palmer-Komar Colavita/ Cooking Light Cycling Team … 7. Christine Thorburn Webcor-Platinum Women’s Cycling Team … 8. Anne Samplonius Team Biovail Pro Cycling, at 0:02 9. Alex Wrubleski * Team Biovail Pro Cycling … 10. Carmen Small TRIA, at 0:03