Northstar to host third stop of Pro Gravity Tour this weekend | SierraSun.com
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Northstar to host third stop of Pro Gravity Tour this weekend

Courtesy of Jake Orness/e-mailed to swright@sierraTwo-time U.S. National downhill champion Duncan Riffle of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team trains on his Giant Glory bicycle in the mountains above Tehachapi, Calif. Riffle will compete at Northstar this weekend.
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Top mountain bike racers from around the world and local shredders alike will descend on Northstar-at-Tahoe this weekend to compete in the third stop of the Professional Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (Pro GRT).

The five-event pro series, which kicked off in Port Angeles, Wash., on April 22 and wraps up at Lake Placid, N.Y., in September, replaces the NORBA Nationals and is overseen by USA Cycling, according to the Pro GRT website.

The Northstar stop began Thursday with practice. It ends Sunday with downhill racing on the Gypsie trail.



The event is viewer-friendly, said Northstar Communication Manager Jessica VanPernis, who said there are four good areas to take in the action and#8212; three that are easy to reach by foot. One of the viewing points is near a large road-drop feature at the bottom of the race course, she said, located near The Stash terrain park.

VanPernis expects and#8220;a few hundredand#8221; competitors between the pros and amateurs, although she said with last-minute sign-ups there’s no telling just how many will participate.



and#8220;Based on the last two events, I guess people were literally still signing up on the day of. Mountain bikers are not known for a lot of advanced sign-up,and#8221; she said with a laugh. and#8220;It’s sort of the way the mountain bike community does it.and#8221;

Duncan Riffle, a 23-year-old from Santa Barbara who rides for the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, is among the top pros set to compete. After racing away from his California home on the World Cup circuit for the better part of the last four years, Riffle said he looks forward to competing on the slopes of Northstar.

and#8220;I rode here last year, and it’s real similar terrain to Mammoth and Big Bear, which is where I grew up racing,and#8221; said Riffle, a two-time U.S. National downhill champion who’s currently ranked fifth in the Pro GRT standings. and#8220;So pretty much all the terrain is the same and#8212; real light, pumicey dirt and dust. I’m pretty ecstatic about it, to be honest. We’ve been racing in Europe and on the East Coast, which is just really rooty, steep, wet conditions. So I’m pretty stoked to get back home where it feels a lot more normal to me.and#8221;

Despite the sizable prize purse among the pro contingent, Riffle said he has minimal expectations aside from having fun, as he realizes he’s racing against some of the best in the business. They include series leader Bryn Atkinson of Australia and Andrew Neethling of South Africa, as well as Justin Leov of New Zealand, top American Luke Strobel, Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar and others.

The pro women’s field also is stacked, with Tracy Moseley leading the Pro GRT series, followed by Jill Kintner, Melissa Buhl, Darian Harvey and Rachel Atherton.

For more information about the Pro GRT, or to register to compete, visit the event website at http://www.progrt.com.


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