Friday night seemed destined to be a wash. At 5:30pm, just prior to the start of the women’s race, the skies looked as if they would open up and dump rain at any moment. Despite this threat we left the house, determined to see some elite men’s and women’s bicycle racing.
We still aren’t sure how this happened, but outside of the occasional drop, the rain held off for the entire evening, and it turned out to be an exciting night for racing in Minneapolis.
The Nature Valley Grand Prix once again brought elite cycling to the streets of Uptown in Minneapolis, and spectators were treated to a night filled, with break-aways, a big crash and a picture perfect evening for cycling.
The women’s race was well attended, and was the source of the biggest surprise of the evening, which came on lap 29 of 30, a huge pile-up resulting in hospitalizations for four riders, and a scary moment for the best rider in the US Kristin Armstrong. The crash happened just at the riders were approaching the line for the final lap, pretty much directly in front of the Apple Store on Hennepin Ave. Due to the fact that the injured riders were unable to get up, the race officials had no choice but to stop the race, and nullify all results from the evening.
The other effect from the crash was a delay in the start of both the kids race and the elite men’s race, which started almost 30 minutes late. The men’s race, featured some of the best US-based riders, as well as some locally sponsored talent. Kelly Benefit Strategies/ Optum-Health Team, made the night interesting, including a late attempt at a solo breakaway, which ultimately failed to produce. The race ended up finishing at dusk leaving the thousands of spectators to head home in darkness.
To see the surprisingly large number of spectators, packing the course route for both the men’s and women’s racing, make us all but certain this event will be back next year. As we made our way home through the crowds of people, mostly leaving by bicycle, we couldn’t help but have a swell of pride for cycling in our city.
Pictures to follow.