Nature Valley Grand Prix: Stillwater Criterium

Nature Valley Grand Prix - Stage 6 Stillwater Criterium

The final stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix finished Sunday with the infamous Stillwater Criterium. Often referred to as the hardest crit course in the country, the race featured a two- block long hill at 18%, rising 100 vertical feet each lap. In previous years, this stage has proven to be the most selective of the race and often produces big shake-ups in the overall GC. Globalbike’s Bobby Sweeting came into the stage in 9th place in the GC and was hopeful that he could move up. “I did well here last year and climbed a few spots in the overall,” said Sweeting. “I feel like I have better legs this year, so hopefully I can do the same.”

As dozens of riders were shelled off the back of the race, Sweeting remained in the lead group all the way to the end.

“I wanted to shoot myself the time up the hill when Rory attacked. That hurt bad,” said Sweeting referring to the winning move of United Health Care’s Rory Sutherland who escaped the group with one lap to go.

“You can’t sit too far back, you can’t sit too far forward,” explained Sutherland about the strategy for tackling Chilkoot. “We have guys in this team, I’ve won it three times now, we’ve got other guys who have been here winning five, six times total, I think we pretty much know how to ride this one.”

A 13th place finish on the stage for Sweeting propelled him up the GC to 6th overall as others ahead of him faltered and finished behind the group. “That was my strategy going in, I knew if I just finished with what was left of the group, there was a good chance others ahead of me wouldn’t make it,” said Sweeting. The rest of the Globalbike team also had good rides, several also moving up in GC.

“This is a huge result for the team,” said Josh Whitmore. “There are a lot of full professional teams here that wish they had someone this high up in the GC.” In fact out of the 22 teams that started the race, only 4 teams had riders higher in the overall results. “Bobby definitely proved he has talent,” said Whitmore. “We were all very proud to offer what little help we could to him during the race and excited about the publicity this has generated for the Globalbike organization.”

Defending race champion Rory Sutherland summarized his feeling about the race. “It’s definitely special because there is more pressure to be able to do it,” said Sutherland about his three-peat. “As fun as it was last year to bring it down to the last day, I’d much rather have it a few days earlier, but this is the finish here.”