Defending Champion Starts Strong in Team’s Hometown Race
Tom Zirbel smashed the opening time trial at the North Star Grand Prix, finishing with an incredible time of 9:59:31. Zirbel was the only rider to break the 10-minute barrier on the 5-mile course that runs along the east bank of the Mississippi river. Aaron Beebe (Bissell ABG Giant) finished second with Zirbel’s teammate and Amgen Tour of California King of the Mountains Evan Huffman in third. The victory is the fifth time Zirbel has won the time trial stage at the North Star Grand Prix and sets him up to defend the overall title he captured last year.
The North Star Grand Prix is Rally Cycling’s unofficial hometown event and the team has staked a claim to the top step of the podium, having won the overall title the last five years. Along with it being an important event for the team, it is also special for Zirbel who grew up south of the Twin Cities in Iowa. In his final season in the professional peloton, the course was lined with friends and family eager to see him race one final time. In addition to winning the overall title last year, Zirbel won the event in 2012. Another former winner, Jesse Anthony (2011) finished 14th and, along with Huffman and Danny Pate, are all within striking distance of the overall.
“It’s a special race for me as it’s the closest big event that we do near to where I grew up,” said Zirbel. “I always have a lot of friends and family show up, so I am happy to get a good result. I am not looking to hold the lead – it’s more about setting up the team later in the week. There is a good chance the jersey will change hands, but the team had a lot of guys go well today so we are in a good position.”
In the women’s race, the podium was elusive, with Heather Fischer the team’s highest place finisher in seventh. The women will look to climb back on the podium as the North Star Grand Prix continues with the St. Paul Criterium on Wednesday evening before tackling the Canyon Falls Road Race on Thursday. On Friday the race moves to Minneapolis for the Uptown Criterium. The event concludes over the weekend with the North Mankato Road Race on Saturday and the Stillwater Criterium on Sunday.
North Star Grand Prix Stage 1 Results
1. Tom Zirbel (Rally Cycling)
2. Aaron Beebe (Bissell ABG Giant)
3. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling)
Credits: Rally Cycling