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The North Star Grand Prix is in full swing in Minnesota with three exciting stages already completed. But as the weekend approaches, the most spectator-friendly stages are yet to come, and you’ll be able to watch them live.
The five-day stage races, formerly known as the Nature Valley Grand Prix, has been around 1999 and is perhaps most known for its Stillwater criterium that takes riders up the famed Chilkoot Hill with an 18 percent grade. Due to the technical nature of the course, the steep climb and the fierce competition, the Stillwater criterium is considered by many to be the hardest criterium in America.
But before we get to the grand finale, there are two other stages for the riders to complete –the Uptown Criterium and the North Mankato Road Race –both of which you’ll be able to watch.
After a successful first couple of stages, Team Rally is well on its way of continuing their six-year winning streak.
In the race opener, reigning Junior World Time Trial Champion Brandon McNulty stormed to victory, taking his first professional win and setting a new course record in the process. Completing the 8-kilometre course in just 9:16, he bested his teammate and second place finisher Evan Huffman by 5 seconds. Bryan Gomez (Gateway Harley-Davidson) finished in third.
In the criterium later that same day, a promising Cylance Cycling lead-out train delivered Justin Williams (Cylance Pro Cycling) to the line, but it was Alfredo Rodriguez (Elevate-KHS) who got the better of the green squad and crossed the line first. Ty Magner (Holowesko Citadel) rounded out the podium in third place.
In the Cannon Falls road race, Team Rally’s Brad Huff won the finishing sprint while McNulty finished safely in the pack to keep his overall lead and the yellow leader’s jersey. Magner sprinted onto the podium again, this time finishing in second place ahead of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez Victori (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling).
Going into stage 4, McNulty leads the overall by just six seconds over Magner and Colin Joyce (Rally). A third Rally team-member, Huffman, sits in fourth with seven seconds down from McNulty.
The women’s race opened up with extremely tight margins and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Rushlee Buchanan, Brianna Walle (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) and Tayler Wiles (UHC) all finished their time trial within 1 second of one another.
In the second stage later that day, a flat and fast criterium, Rally’s Emma White out-sprinted the bunch. Several crashes caused havoc on the field but the jersey wearers stayed safe. And as the sprinters headed to the line, it was Rally Cycling’s Emma White who delivered the win for the orange team, earning enough bonus seconds along the way to push UHC’s Buchanan out of the GC lead and take over the yellow leader’s jersey. Marlies Mejias Garcia (Weber-Shimano) and Ellen Noble (Colavita-Bianchi) rounded out the St. Paul criterium.
Majias Garcia was again part of finishing action in the Cannon Falls road race, but after nearlt three hours of action, had to make do with a second place finish behind UHC’s Ruth Winder. And by netting a thrid-place finish, White continues to lead the overall going into stage 4 tonight.
Three races to watch
Friday June 16 – Uptown Criterium
Women’s Race 6:15 p.m. CDT
Men’s Race 7:50 p.m. CDT
Saturday, June 17 – North Mankato Road Race
The local public access TV is providing video-only coverage of the race.
Sunday, June 18 – Stillwater Criterium
Women’s Race 11:45 a.m. CDT
Men’s Race 1:30 p.m. CDT