6/5/2014 8:54:00 PM Grand Prix bike race to come through Cannon Falls
The top men and women cyclists from across the country will contest the 16th annual North Star Grand Prix (formerly the Nature Valley Grand Prix) held June 11-15 in Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. The Cannon Falls portion of the race will be held Thursday, June 12.
The North Star Grand Prix is the most prestigious race on the men's and women's USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. Now in its 16th year, the North Star Bicycle Festival is celebration of bicycling that includes amateur and professional racing and community events. The North Star Grand Prix has become the premier professional bike race on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, attracting top American and International racing teams and nearly 300 top riders from around the world.
The women's race promises to be a battle as former Grand Prix champions Carmen Small (2012) and Amber Neben (2011) take on a strong field of women, including 2013 runner up Jade Wilcoxson. Team UnitedHealthcare makes its first appearance at the North Star Grand Prix with three strong veterans, Cari Higgins, Alison Powers and Lauren Tamayo, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Minnesota teen Kelly Catlin, who placed in the top ten in a Junior World's Competition last fall, will also compete against the pros.
On the men's side, the team has filled with 150 riders, with 50 turned away. Team Optum will return with 2012 champion Tom Zirbel, 2011 Champion Jesse Anthony and 2010 runner up Scott Zwizanski. They'll have stiff competition from Team Jelly Belly's "Fast Freddie" Rodriguez, a four-time USPro champion who has also won several races in the grand tours in Europe and Team Jamis' J.J. Haedo, an amazing sprinter who won all three criterium races last year. They are sure to be challenged by Team3M, an international team based in Belgium, which makes its inaugural North American appearance at the North Star Grand Prix this year.
The Kid's Fun Race in Cannon Falls invites kids 12 and under to use part of the same race course as the professionals use to race their vehicles. Everyone wins a racing medal, plus kids may register to win one of the new bike helmets, donated by Mayo Health System in Cannon Falls.
A spectacular show will have stunt riders performing in the expo area.
Live music by David Carpenter and Friends begins at 6:30 p.m. also in the Expo Area.
The bicycle festival is a blast for all ages. This year the Expo area will be back on Mill Street between Fourth and Third Streets. Expo hours are 5-9 p.m.
North Star Grand Prix is a fundraiser for Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota, which is the first hospice and respite care home in the Midwest built exclusively for children.
The 2014 Cannon Falls race course will follow much of the same rural roads as last year, however the in-town circuit portion will return to the course that was used for many years on the eastside of town.
The start and finish line will be on Third Street near the Library alleyway. After the 90-plus miles the course takes from Cannon Falls to Zumbrota and back, racers will return to Cannon Falls entering the in-town circuit near the high school via Highway 19.