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Small takes over NRC lead

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Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the TT and claimed the leader's jersey.

Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the TT and claimed the leader's jersey. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Carmen Small (Optum) and team director Rachel Heal before the start.

Carmen Small (Optum) and team director Rachel Heal before the start. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)
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Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) turned the fastest time on the new time trial course along the Mississippi River with a 17:30.

Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) turned the fastest time on the new time trial course along the Mississippi River with a 17:30. (Image credit: Matthew Moses)
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Points leader: Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)

Points leader: Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Tom Zirbel (Optum) raises his arm after taking the overall race win.

Tom Zirbel (Optum) raises his arm after taking the overall race win. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

The standings of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar shifted after the Nature Valley Grand Prix, with Optum Pro Cycling's Carmen Small forming a commanding lead in the women's individual rankings after her overall victory there.

Small claimed the opening time trial and held onto her race lead throughout the six stage event in Minnesota. The 400 points earned for her efforts pushed her to the top of the standings by 264 points over her teammate Jade Wilcoxson, who was third overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon), who took 12th overall, dropped to third.

Thanks to Small and Wilcoxson, the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team extended its lead in the women's team rankings, where it now leads with 1,005 points. Exergy Twenty12 overtook Team TIBCO-To the Top to assume second place.

The women have three more events in the 2012 NRC: the Cascade Classic from July 17-22, and the Tour of Elk Grove and Aspen Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge in August.

Although he did not race the Nature Valley Grand Prix, choosing instead to contest the Tour de Beauce, Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist) held onto his lead in the men's individual standings over Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) and Chad Beyer (Competitive Cyclist).

Nature Valley winner Tom Zirbel (Optum Pro Cycling) moved up into fourth ahead of Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell).

Zirbel's win helped his team to knock 253 points off its deficit to leaders Competitive Cyclist: now only 198 points separate the two teams. Bissell is third a further 229 points back.