Ellen Noble (North Memorial) claimed an emotional victory on the final stage of in the 17th edition of the North Star Grand Prix. The 20-year-old cyclocross phenom pipped Heather Fischer (Rally Cycling) and Brianna Walle (TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank) on the final charge up Chilkoot Hill and dedicated the win to her late father.
"I gave it my all to get the victory for him," Noble said. "I'm beside myself."
Walle sealed overall victory after successfully defending the yellow jersey for all five days of racing around Eastern Minnesota. Greg Lemond Best Young Rider winner Lauretta Hanson (Colavita/Bianchi), moved up to second and Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) finished third overall, both tied at 40 seconds down.
"For me, this race is sentimental," Walle said. "Four years ago, I won Best Amateur through the Pro Chase program and now I'm in yellow. It's pretty cool. This is the biggest win of my career. Last time I was in yellow was with the US National team in the Czech Republic, so this is a big deal."
Maxing out at 23 percent, Stillwater Criterium is known for infamous Chilkoot Hill where the race was decided. Despite being in an break with Sara Tussey (Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling) for almost half of the race, Noble had the legs and the motivation to overcome a minor scuffle on the final ascent.
"I went right and another girl went right as well," Noble said. "We hooked bars so I powered down to untangle myself and that's what surged me forward. I attacked to get away and thought 'oh my God, I'm in the lead.'"
North Memorial and UHC, hoping to wear down TIBCO and get their GC contenders up in the standings, animated the race. Noble attacked with around eight laps to go and was joined by Tussey, who won the Surly Most Aggressive jersey, soon after. Katie Compton (UHC) bridged to the duo with a few laps remaining, however with one lap to go a select group of riders was all together.
"The plan was to attack to set up my teammate, Joelle (Numainville) because she wasn't that far out of the yellow," Noble said. "We were going to set a pace that she could bridge up to. It ended up that no one bridged up to us until 1 to go. I don't race road that much, so I'm not really sure about tactics, but I do know the number one rule is to not get dropped out of the break. That was really all I was trying to do today was to stay in the break until something happened."
Coryn Rivera (UHC) attacked on the descent and had a slight advantage before the final climb, but couldn't hold on. From there it was a fight for the line which saw Noble victorious.
Australian criterium champion Sophie Mackay brought home the K'ul Chocolate sprinter jersey for Supermint Hagens-Berman and Erica Allar (Rally Cycling) held on to the lead in the Sport Beans Queen of the Hills competition.
"It's not something I would typically go for," said Allar, who is a known criterium specialist. "I haven't gone for a QOM or QOH in all my years of racing. We had a team meeting the other day and our director Pat (McCarthy) told me I should go for it. I was a little nervous, but it was exciting the team had confidence in me to pull it off."
Carla Swart Sportmanship Award
Before the starting gun fired, North Star Grand Prix took a moment to honor the memory of 2008 Collegiate All-Stars rider turned professional, Carla Swart, who died tragically in a training accident in 2011. Over the course of the week, the peloton voted for whom they think embodies the same selfless qualities Carla did as a teammate. The rider with the most votes is awarded the Carla Swart Sportsmanship jersey on the final stage. This year, the award went to an emotional Lauren Hall (TIBCO).
"I'm at a loss for words," Hall said, who was Swart's teammate in 2010. "I'm humbled and honored. I think about her before every single race and always have. I say a prayer and I say something to Carla and now that I'm wearing this jersey it's quite the honor. I think she gave me some wings today."
When Lindsey Bayer (Supermint-Hagens Berman) asked her team who they wanted to vote for, there was no question.
"All of them said, 'Lauren Hall, of course,'" Bayer said. "There could not be a more deserving rider. Lauren is my hero. She's always incredibly helpful, kind and has a great attitude. I've seen her be a successful rider and get results on her own, but she also dies a million deaths for her teammates. The ability to win races on your own, but give it up to work for your teammates, that commands so much respect."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ellen Noble (North Memorial Health Care)||0:58:21|
|2||Heather Fischer (Rally Cycling)|
|3||Brianna Walle (Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank)|
|4||Sara Poidevin (Rally Cycling)||0:00:07|
|5||Samantha Schneider (ISCorp Cycling p/b SmartChoice MRI)||0:00:09|
|6||Lauretta Hanson (Colavita/Bianchi Racing)||0:00:12|
|7||Sara Tussey (Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling)||0:00:20|
|8||Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank)|
|9||Coryn Rivera (Team UnitedHealthcare)||0:00:23|
|10||Erica Allar (Rally Cycling)||0:00:32|
|11||Brenna Wrye-Simpson (SPBRC/ Grand Performance)|
|12||Whitney Allison (Colavita/Bianchi Racing)||0:00:34|
|13||Janelle Cole (Medica Collegiate All Stars)||0:00:37|
|14||Amanda Miller (Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling)||0:00:40|
|15||Gretchen Stumhofer (Colavita/Bianchi Racing)||0:00:42|
|16||Jessica Cutler (Colavita/Bianchi Racing)||0:00:47|
|17||Skylar Schneider (ISCorp Cycling p/b SmartChoice MRI)||0:00:49|
|18||Joelle Numainville (North Memorial Health Care)||0:00:55|
|19||Kathryn Buss (Medica Collegiate All Stars)|
|20||Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Brianna Walle (Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank)|