The 2011 Nature Valley GP presented the perfect opportunity for our young team to race one of the highest profile Women's Stage races in the USA. This year's edition did not dissapoint, with Olympic Gold Medallist Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co) and World Champion Giorgina Bronzini (Colavita Forno D Asolo) lining up against strong squads including eventual winner Amber Neben's HTC, TIBCO to the Top, Diadora Pasta Zara and our little band of hitter kitties!
For this attempt at Nature Valley GP, a 6 stage race in and around the twins cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota, Director Jono Coulter assembled a team of youngsters in Maura Kinsella (19), Emily Collins and Jazzy Hurikino (20) and brought in a Northern Californian rising star in Beth Newell, famous for her Beth Bikes blog and eccentric ramblings on all things two wheeled. Beth has won a number of NorCal races this Spring and Summer, and showed her value and potential over the 5 day race, especially with a 22nd (and 2nd "Amateur Classement") in the opening Time Trial on a bike she had never ridden!
96 riders would start the race, but by the end of Stillwater Classic only 55 remained. Highlights for the Vanderkitten-Focus squad included Emily Collins 5th (behind Bronzini, Hoskins, Cliff-Ryan and Shelley Olds)and 6th placings in the Minneapolis Criterium and Cannon Falls Road Race Stage, as well as Emily and Beth being in contention for the Best Young Rider and Best Amateur for most of the race.
Bronzini was a superstar, winning three sprint finishes (including up the 21% Chilkoot Hill wall on the final StillWater stage) and whilst 4 time winner Armstrong wore the yellow jersey until the penultimate stage, a resurgent Amber Neben helped by crafty and strong young Americans Evie Stevens, Amanda Miller and Ally Stacher ended up winning the Overall in front of TIBCO's Erin Willock and Peanut Butter and Co's Armstrong.
We have some exclusive Podium Cafe Behind the Scenes Vids for our PdC fans. Firstly- Jazzy and Beth predict the happenings on Stage 3 Cannon Falls Road Race:
Emily would finish 5th on that stage- whilst the previous stage she scored 6th:
And just to prove that Vanderkitten-Focus is as much about fun as slogging it out in the gutter for countless hours, our 19 year old rapper Maura Kinsella has a feature song she wanted to share with PdC readers:
our very own mc MKultr4 (via VanderkittenTube)
well, thanks for reading! Hope you love our adventures as much as we love having them!