Rally Cycling heads into its hometown race, the North Star Grand Prix, and Canada’s Tour de Beauce with strong momentum after a weekend of podiums across North America. At the Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay in Quebec, Canada, Eric Young sprinted to victory in the fourth and final stage, while Erica Allar and Jessica Prinner found the podium in all three days of Oklahoma’s Tulsa Tough.
Defending champion Allar returned to a familiar podium for her in Friday’s opening event at Tulsa Tough, the McNellie’s Group Blue Dome Criterium, crossing the line in second while Prinner came home in fifth. Allar followed this up with third in the George Kaiser Family Foundation Brady Arts District Criterium on Saturday. Teammate Heather Fischer would claim fifth. On the final day, Prinner put on an impressive display of strength at the New Medio Parks Criterium – the third and final event of Tulsa Tough. Prinner spent the entire race off the front in various breakaways before eventually finishing second. The team’s consistency over the weekend bode well for the omnium where Allar, Prinner and Fischer claimed third, fourth and sixth overall respectively.
While the women enjoyed some favorable weather in Tulsa, the men were not as lucky in Canada. Heavy rains and cold conditions greeted the peloton for the opening stage on Thursday. Pierrick Naud rode well in the opening stage to finish sixth on the day. The team worked tirelessly in the remaining stages to try and improve Naud’s position, but the opportunity did not present itself and he eventually finished ninth overall. The race finished on a high note with Young’s stage victory – one that confirmed a return to form following a difficult spring campaign.
“Obviously, it’s really fun and a great feeling to finish a hard race like the GP Saguenay with a stage win,” said Young of his win. “The guys on the team here rode hard for three days in some difficult conditions and we really hadn’t achieved anything satisfying. For me personally, after a rough spring that left something to be desired in the results column, I can definitely take this win as some assurance that my form is on the mend. Hopefully we can continue to build some momentum through the Tour de Beauce and into the rest of the year.”
After landing on every step of the podium this past weekend, the team regroups in Minneapolis for the North Star Grand Prix, June 15 -19. The event has a rich history for the Twin Cities community and the team. First held in 1998 the North Star Grand Prix has become one of the top-level stage races on the US calendar. As the team’s unofficial hometown event, Rally Cycling has staked a claim to the top step of the podium having won the overall title the last five years.
This year, the team will look to keep the win streak alive with a strong team led by 2012 and 2015 champion Tom Zirbel. He will be joined on the start line by another former champion Jesse Anthony and other general classification contenders, Adam De Vos and Danny Pate. Another threat for the overall is Amgen Tour of California King of the Mountains Evan Huffman. National Criterium Champion Brad Huff will round out the squad.
“The North Star Grand Prix is a special race to me because of the success I had here several years ago,” said Anthony. “Whenever you win a race, it’s very memorable and you enjoy going back. This being the hometown race for Rally Cycling makes it that much more special as we have so many friends in the area. The Uptown and Stillwater criteriums are also some of the best crowds that we ever see at domestic races all year, so the atmosphere is really fun.“
The aggressive trio of Erica Allar, Jessica Prinner and Heather Fischer will lead the women. Fischer won a stage and the points competition at the Tour of the Gila in May and finished sixth two weeks ago in the Women’s World Tour Philadelphia International Classic. Redlands Bicycle Classic Queen of the Mountains Sara Poidevin and fellow Canadians Katherine Maine and Catherine Ouellette will join them. Rally Cycling will also include 2015 Junior World Time Trial and Road Race silver medalist, Emma White along with Hannah Ross and guest rider Gillian Ellsay.
Men’s North Star Grand Prix Roster
Adam De Vos
Women’s North Star Grand Prix Roster
Gillian Ellsay (Guest Rider)