Nature Valley Grand Prix – KOM Jersey!

The CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team headed to Nature Valley Grand Prix after a great three days of racing at Tulsa Tough. NVGP is a unique event in that the organizers limit the men’s rosters to 6 riders and all competitors are to race the time trial on their road bikes. We drove straight from Tulsa Tough to the event with team riders David Santos, Mike Olheiser, Cole House, Fabrizio Von Nacher, Chris Barton and Michael Weicht.

The first stage of the event is a 7.7 mile time trial that is mostly flat along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. It began raining early in the morning and just continued to pick up. Chris Barton was our highest placed rider, finishing 3rd and on the podium. He checked in with feedback from the event and how it progressed for him and the team.

“At the time trial, it was raining pretty hard, which can be intimidating, but you have to remember its raining hard for everyone. The course was not very technical, so I took it easy through the few turns and gave it everything I had on the rest of the course. I like time trials with bike and equipment restrictions because it gives the riders who can’t afford the best equipment more of a fair chance.

I felt great during the TT, so I expected to be in the top ten. Making the podium is always a nice surprise.”

NVGP Stage 1 Podium:  Sergie Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) 1st; Tom Zirbel (Optum) 2nd; Chris Barton (CashCall) 3rdNVGP Stage 1 Podium:
Sergie Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) 1st; Tom Zirbel (Optum) 2nd; Chris Barton (CashCall) 3rd

Wednesday was our first double-day race of the season with a criterium in the evening in downtown St. Paul, MN. The team raced smart with the goal to keep Chris’s overall general classification spot. The third stage Thursday afternoon, Cannon Falls Road Race, would cover 93 miles through the rolling farmlands with multiple sprint lines and KOM points to be fought for. At the end of this stage, the CashCall team snagged their second podium of the event, with Cole House sprinting to 3rd place on the line.

NVGP Stage 3, Cannon Falls Road Race 3rd place. NVGP Stage 3, Cannon Falls Road Race 3rd place.

The fourth stage of the event was another fast criterium in Minneapolis, MN. The Uptown Crit covered 40 laps winding through a big expo area and hundreds of fans, ending at sundown. Michael Weicht was our top-placed rider in 7th place, continuing to move up on the general classification.

Stage five took the race into Wisconsin for the 83 mile Menomonie Road Race. This stage boasted three short and steep KOM climbs, with some serious rollers between each of them. Chris Barton was again on the attack, and here is his recount of the stage:

“Our focus for the Menomonie Road Race was to get a rider into the break and try to take the KOM (King of the Mountain) jersey. Personally, I had performed well and had a good ride the first 2 days, but the day before the Menomonie, I felt a bit tired. I tried not to think about this because you can always rebound from a bad day on the bike, and I just tried my hardest to be in the right place at the right time. Teammate Fabi (Fabrizio Von Nacher) went with an early move that was quickly brought back, and I went with the next move which was only eight miles into the stage and it ended up staying away. My legs and body started to come around and I was feeling strong and everything worked out. I was able to win 2 KOM sprints receiving the highest points possible, and place 2nd on another. These points secured my lead in the KOM competition which has belong to Janier Acevedo (Jamis Hagen Berman).

Sunday was the sixth stage and final day. We calculated that if I won 1 of the 3 KOMs, I would have the jersey in the bag. We decided the best defense was a good offense, so we planned to have the whole team on the front for the first 3 laps and lead me out to win the first sprint for KOM points which was at the top of the 20% Stillwater climb at the end of lap 3. The guys executed this plan perfectly, keeping the pace high and keeping me out of trouble. I had the perfect lead-out and was able to win the KOM. The guys fully committed to me, sacrificing their individual chances to do well, for which I am incredibly grateful.

All season we as a team, have been focusing on improving from race to race. We’ve had our share of speed bumps trying to find the best way to work together, but I think NVGP has shown that we are quickly improving. I would not have been able to win the KOM competition without the full commitment and dedication of an amazing team.

I am extremely optimistic about the second part of the season. My fitness is improving, and the team as a whole keeps getting stronger and stronger. Elite Road Nationals and Cascade Cycling Classic are big races for us, and I truly expect that we will have some hard earned victories at these races.”

Chris Barton received the KOM Jersey after his efforts in the Menomonie Road Race. Chris Barton received the KOM Jersey after his efforts in the Menomonie Road Race.

Thank you Chris for your NVGP story!

Michael Weicht finished the event in 8th place General Classification, our highest NRC finish to date!