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Steve Fisher shows off the MVP belt.

Steve Fisher shows off the MVP belt.

Six Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis riders traveled to Minneapolis for the North Star Bicycle Fest last week. This was my first trip to Minnesota and it did not disappoint. We enjoyed great weather for most of the week and awesome fans at every stage.

Things started off with a short road bike only time trial on Wednesday morning. We put our Fast Freddie Apparel skinsuits to good use and hammered out the 5 miles along the Mississippi River. Jonathan was our top finisher and in the hunt for the best young rider jersey.

Wednesday evening’s criterium in St. Paul featured a tight course with lots of spectators. The cornering clearance provided by our Speedplay pedals allowed us to stay smooth and on the gas throughout the course.

On Thursday we headed to Cannon Falls for a 95 mile road race. Wind was blowing hard and the race was on from the gun despite a short gravel section. I managed to get away and win the first KOH sprint, but I was back in the pack shortly after. The wind wasn’t letting up and the peloton was shredded in the crosswinds shortly after. We had four Jelly Belly riders in the second group that dangled one minute back from the leaders for most of the day. The strong winds and strong riders ahead proved to be stronger than us today, but plenty of opportunities for us remained.

We started Friday’s criterium determined to ride as a team, and we got together at the front of the race almost immediately. Optum took control of the race and let a five-rider breakaway go up the road while we sat behind them waiting for our opportunity in the final sprint. Unfortunately the breakaway stuck until the end, but we still wanted to give Sean the best possible opportunity in the field sprint. I took the front for the final lap with Freddie and Sean in tow. Freddie and I lit up the last lap to deliver Sean to 7th.

Saturday’s Menomonie road race was 101 miles long and featured several steep KOH climbs. Attacks started right from the gun, but it was one of those days where it seemed like everyone wanted to be in the breakaway. When the break did finally go Freddie made it and they worked well together to establish a 4 minute lead. With around 30 miles left to race the rain started coming down hard and Freddie’s break looked like it had a good chance of making it to the line. Freddie and his comrades reached the finishing circuits with 3 minutes in hand still and fought it out for win. Freddie finished 4th.

The final stage took us to Stillwater for a criterium that would feature 23 laps up the infamous Chilkoot hill. The hill may be short, but it is incredibly steep and whittled the field down with each lap. I stayed near the front up the climb every lap and I was feeling great each time up. I ended up a little farther back than I would have liked during the final lap, but I passed as many riders as I could in the last sprint up the hill, earning 6th place on the stage and moving up to 23rd overall.

I was happy to close out the week with another top 10 result for the team. I was also awarded our Most Valuable Rider belt, which is a new tradition that we have started at Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis.

Special thanks this week to Nick, Ahme, Tom and Stacy for hosting us. Also thanks to Bobby for keeping our bikes working well all week.