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Women’s Prestige Series back for 2011

The Women’s Prestige Cycling Series is back for an eighth season in 2011. The four-event series is the top women-only competition in the United States and will include the Redlands Classic, Tour of the Gila, Nature Valley Grand Prix and Cascade Cycling Classic.

2010 Cascade Cycling Classic stage 4,
Mara Abbott won the 2010 series

The Women’s Prestige Cycling Series is back for an eighth season in 2011. The four-event series is the top women-only competition in the United States and will include the Redlands Classic, Tour of the Gila, Nature Valley Grand Prix and Cascade Cycling Classic.

Series co-founder and new Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12 director Giana Roberge said that she originally envisioned the WPCS as a manageable competition between squads regardless of budget size. Since its genesis at the 2003 Women’s Cycling Summit Conference, the series has grown into a top prize for elite women’s squads in the U.S.

“We set out to create a focused series that women’s teams could build their seasons around,” she said. “The National Racing Calendar just had too many events and had became a competition about who had the biggest travel budget. We wanted a series all women’s teams could equally take ownership of, while leveling the playing field.”

2011 Women’s Prestige Cycling Series
Redlands Bicycle Classic in California, March 30-April 3
SRAM Tour of the Gila, April 27-May 1
Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, June 15-19
Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic, July 19-24

Tibco-ToTheTop director Lisa Hunt, whose squad added 2009 series winner Alison Powers this year, pointed to the series as a contributor to improved women’s racing.

“Having a women’s-only series does a great deal to enhance the sport, and get it out a bit from the shadow of the men’s side of the sport,” Hunt said. “I think you can see that effect in the improvement in quality of the racing here in the U.S. Just look at the recent success of U.S. women on the road in some of the biggest races internationally and you can see how the WPCS has contributed to that growth in talent, and in the talent pool.”

2010 WPS winners:
Individual and Best Young Rider: Mara Abbott
Team: Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12
Best Sprinter: Carla Swart

Nature Valley has been on the series calendar each year, while Redlands was added in the second year. Cascade is a fourth-time participant and Gila makes its sophomore appearance in the WPCS.

Riders will compete in four classifications: overall individual, best young rider, best sprinter and top team.