Tom Zirbel kicked off the North Star Grand Prix with a victory in the individual time trial opener, his second consecutive year on the top step of the podium. The former US National Time Trial Champion made short work of the 5 mile course, identical to the previous year’s route along the city’s scenic East River Road on the banks of the Mississippi. Zirbel finished with a time of 9:55, four seconds ahead of runner-up Ben Hill Team Donkey Lab. He will wear yellow in tonight’s stage two criterium in downtown St. Paul.
“All the guys rode really well and that’s what we needed to do – it’s always nice to be in a defensive position for the criterium course tonight – the front of the race is the best place to be on such a technical course, and that’s where we’ll try to be.” said Zirbel.
The team’s successful morning was not limited to Zirbel’s victory — Scott Zwizanski narrowly missed the podium, coming in fourth, just two tenths of a second off of the podium, while Guillaume Boivin and Jesse Anthony finished in fifth and eighth. After a few hours of rest, the team rolls into downtown St. Paul for a 7:45 start and 40 laps of criterium racing in the city’s historic Lowertown district.
In between the doubleheader of racing, the team joined a host of Optum volunteers to visit the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. It has become a team tradition during their hometown race to serve lunch and visit with children and their families at the House.
“We love visiting the Ronald McDonald House every year in Minneapolis because it really puts things in perspective for the athletes,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “There is a lot more to life than bike racing, and sometimes with our busy travel and competition schedules, we can forget that. A day with two bike races can be pretty stressful, but its great to be able to relax and help out families at the House in whatever way we can.”
North Star Grand Prix Roster