By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, one of the top NRC stage races in America, will once again have a special collegiate women's all-star team comprised of the top riders from the recent US collegiate nationals. Each member of the team will race in her school's team kit, garnering national exposure for the school, while the rider gains exposure in front of the top women's teams.
The first year success of the program prompted its continuation, as half of the 2007 team were signed to pro contracts for this season – Penn State's Erica Allar (Aaron's Pro Cycling), Fort Lewis College's Kristin McGrath (Colavita-Sutter Home), and Lehigh University's Andrea Luebbe (Verducci Breakaway Racing).
Devon Haskell (University of Chicago) is returning to the team this year. She told her school newspaper, The Maroon, after last year's race that being the test group meant a lot of unknowns, but was happy with the result.
"Nature Valley is one of the biggest and most competitive races in America for women's cycling," said Haskell. "All the big pro teams are there. [It was] my first year bike racing so it was a pretty cool experience to be racing with the best. [It was] the first year that they put a collegiate all-star team together, and I think nobody really knew what to expect, [but I] think we came out of the event feeling like the team was a success."
Collegiate cycling is seen as one of the biggest potential recruiting venues for women's cycling in the US, said USA Cycling board president Mark Abramson, who sits on the board as the collegiate cycling representative. ""The Ryan Collegiate All Stars is a great way to build awareness of collegiate cycling and to help talented women move up the ladder in the sport."
Ryan Collegiate All-Stars: Chloe Forsman, University of Arizona; Devon Haskell, University of Chicago; Anna McLoon, Harvard University; Amanda Miller, Colorado State University; Jen Stebbins, Dartmouth College; Carla Swart, Lees-McRae College