Australian Rory Sutherland won his second consecutive Nature Valley Grand Prix, after the six-stage race ended on Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He came out on top of a hard-fought battle for the overall title – proving that he and his OUCH-Maxxis team is back to winning bike races.
"Every tour this year and day this week we've been beaten and it was just a matter waiting for the moment when we were actually going to get it right," said Sutherland, who has been some-what lacking in the podium department early season.
"We had to go through every scenario to figure out what tactic would have the best chance of working. We have a new group of guys and getting the connection together with everyone to work always takes a lot of time, building blocks and making mistakes."
Tactics were heavily played out between two strong all-rounders and one fast sprinter. Sutherland surpassed Bissell's Tom Zirbel by three seconds in the overall classification with his winning move on the last lap of the final technical race.
Colavita-Sutter Home's double stage winning sprinter, Sebastian Haedo moved into third place in the overall. He maintained a podium place by staying with the leaders over the event's decisive climbs and sprinting for the large time bonuses at the finish line.
"I have a lot of respect for Bissell, and Tom rode a great race," said Sutherland. "It was hard to wait until the last second of the race to make my move and I really wasn't sure if it would work out, but I gave it one shot at 100-percent and I never looked back."
Team Bissell won the event's overall team classification by placing six riders in the top twelve at the prologue in St. Paul Wednesday. Bissell continued to show their strength, maintaining a strong-hold over the front of the peloton for the remaining five stages in the hope of defending Zirbel's overall lead.
"I didn't get through that corner cleanly and got gapped off. Rory still had teammates to get him to the hill," said Zirbel. "I basically had to time trial at that point, but I had lost so much momentum on that last corner that it wasn't going to happen.
"My teammates did such an amazing thing for me this week and that is why this loss is such a hard thing to swallow."