Nature Valley Grand Prix – Stage 4 Minneapolis Uptown Criterium

Clarke takes another win PHOTO:Epic Images

Racing got underway again for Team Globalbike Friday night in the stage 4 criterium in uptown Minneapolis. The course was flat and fast with 6 high speed turns. The Minneapolis crowds were fantastic, lining the course with enthusiastic cheers and standing 4-5 deep around most of it. The kids race that took place between the pro women and pro men saw over 200 kids tackle a lap of the course.

The team lined up with seven out of their original eight racers as Boyd Johnson, suffering from a bruised hip sustained in the Stage 2 criterium, finally decided to call it quits. The stage was mostly a repeat performance of the St Paul criterium with team GC leader Bobby Sweeting staying near the front, however the slightly less selective course allowed Alder Martz to join Sweeting at the front and help him maintain position. David Forkner had a good ride, also finishing in the lead group. Everyone else made the time cut except Noah Metzler who suffered from allergies and was pulled early.

Sweeting maintained his 9th place in the overall GC going into the stage 5 road race, a 96 mile course with 4 categorized climbs. “The race really starts today,” said Sweeting. “After the TT, almost everyone has just been maintaining position in the overall. The hilly course today and the crazy-hard crit in Stillwater are going to make this race.”

Australian Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) continues to rack up stage win after stage win at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. In a close three-man sprint, he took the win at the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium ahead of Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia) and Ken Hanson (Team Type 1).

“Once again, my team did a great job.” said Clarke. “We’ve been saying in team meetings how can this keep happening, somebody’s going to have to try something different.”

Somebody did try something different. The Fly V Australia duo of Kersten and Aaron Kemps came around the leadout train and made their way to the front before that all important final corner. The order going into that final 150-meter straightway was Kemps, Kersten, Clarke and Hanson.


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