Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) won the final stage at the Giro Donne Sunday. Monday night, she will be among the faces featured on Universal Sports in an hour-long recap show of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which she won in June. Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) won his third NVGP in a row with a final-day attack in the Stillwater Criterium; the program will also feature his week-long battle with Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) over the men’s leader’s jersey.
The highlights show will air at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT Monday, a rest day at the Tour de France.
“It was one of the most exciting races that we’ve held,” Nature Valley Grand Prix director David LaPorte said. “The women’s race was aggressive and dynamic while the men’s race was a real cliffhanger. Those are the two classic racing scenarios, and we were lucky enough to have had both of them.”
Zwizanski took the yellow jersey in the opening St. Paul time trial and fended off furious efforts from Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) and Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home), among others, for three stages. Sutherland’s teammate Hilton Clarke won two of those stages – both twilight criteriums – while Ken Hanson (Team Type 1) took the win in the stage 5 Menomonie Road Race.
As he did in 2009, Sutherland used a well-timed attack on the near 20-percent Chilkoot Hill in the waning moments of the final stage to wrestle the jersey and overall win from Zwizanski.
“The plan was the same as last year,” said Sutherland at the finish. “We just wait, and we wait, and we wait, and let everybody else attack. I’ve got the confidence and the team to do a finish like that. Kelly did a phenomenal job the whole race. They didn’t do anything wrong. But either you follow or you can’t follow at the end.”
Much like Sutherland, Evans rode an explosive pace over Chilkoot Hill the last laps of the final stage to seal her overall win. Evans, though, rode in pursuit of lone escapee and eventual stage winner Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Columbia), whose teammate Linda Villumsen entered the stage in yellow, but was dropped when Evans attacked with six laps remaining.
“This is a race of attrition. We knew if we kept the pressure on from the beginning, it would shatter,” Evans told VeloNews in Stillwater. “Everyone executed exactly as we planned it.”
Three riders (Evans twice) held the overall lead in what turned out to be a five-stage race after officials neutralized the Cannon Falls Road Race when tornadoes were spotted in the area. Alison Starnes (Tibco-To The Top) kicked off the leader’s jersey hot potato when she won the opening St. Paul time trial. Evans took the jersey two days later after earning intermediate time bonuses in the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium. Villumsen pulled the lead the next day when she finished second to Erinne Willock (Webcor Builders) out of a two-rider breakaway in the Menomonie Road Race, but in the end, Evans’ pace at Stillwater was too much.
Watch the action unfold from your living room Monday night on Universal Sports.