New sponsors save North Star Grand Prix

The North Star Grand Prix will return in 2015 with two new presenting sponsors that stepped up to save the National Racing Calendar staple event from cancellation.

The event, now known as the North Star Bicycle Festival presented by North Memorial Health Care and PreferredOne, will include the Life Time Fitness Hillfest on June 13 and the North Star Grand Prix pro stage race June 17-21. The race takes place in the Minnesota cities of Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis and Stillwater. There will also be the traditional road race stage in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

“We are so grateful to North Memorial Health Care and PreferredOne for stepping up to the plate and saving this important cycling event,” said Race Director David LaPorte. “The festival has been a crucial part of the Midwest cycling community and USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar for 17 years and it would be a real shame to lose it.”

Other new sponsors include RBC Wealth Management, K’ul Chocolate, Luther Westside Volkswagen and Voler. In 2015 the festival will also benefit a new charity, Special Olympics of Minnesota.

Memorial Health Care Chief Executive Officer J. Kevin Croston said his company is committed to the health and wellness of its communities, and there is a natural synergy with the cycling event. Preferred One CEO Paul Geiwitz said the company hopes its members can attend one of the many free Festival bike events.

The North Star Grand Prix opens on June 17 in Saint Paul with a morning time trial along East River Parkway. The racing moves to downtown Saint Paul’s Lowertown area that evening with a criterium.

On Thursday, the race moves south to Cannon Falls for a rural road race showcasing the wide open spaces of Minnesota’s heartland. The race finishes with multiple laps at high speeds through the downtown Cannon Falls.

Friday's racing returns to the Twin Cities for an evening criterium in the Minneapolis' dynamic Uptown area, a neighborhood of trendy shops, bars and restaurants located just south of downtown. The Menomonie road race on Saturday traverses 152km of rolling farmland in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country, finishing with multiple laps of an in-town circuit.

Stillwater will host Sunday’s grand finale on June 21. The Stillwater Criterium is legendary for weeding out the field as the course features a 24 per cent climb up Chilikoot Hill – the steepest in North American racing. The route features a series of high-speed, downhill 90-degree turns through the city’s historic neighborhoods, with a finish at the top of Chilikoot Hill.

Ryan Anderson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon) won the overall titles in 2014.

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