Minneapolis - The Women's Prestige Cycling Series continues with this week's Nature Valley Grand Prix, the third of four stops for the Series.

Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) is the favorite to retain the lead in the individual competition, although second-placed Alison Powers (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) is within striking distance and could claim the lead if she wins the Nature Valley Grand Prix. A number of other riders have a mathematical chance of taking the lead, but they would need both Abbott and Powers to turn in poor performances.

Abbott appears to have a lock on the Series' Best Young Rider competition in her last year of eligibility. With nearly double the points of her nearest rival, Rebecca Much (Team TIBCO/To The Top Pro Cycling), Abbott would have to fail to finish to lose the lead. The Best Young Rider classification may be a race for second place, with Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus teammates Chloe Forsman and Melanie Meyers hot on Much's heals and TIBCO teammates Allison Starnes and Amanda Miller close behind.

Carmen Small (Colavita/Baci) has a comfortable lead in the sprinter competition. Although HTC-Columbia will be competing at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, second placed Ina-Yoko Teutenberg is not on the race roster. Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) is nearly 100 points behind Small.

If Abbott performs up to expectations, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 should retain its lead in the team competition, since bonus points are awarded for Best Young Riders. Team Vera Bradley Foundation is more than 200 points back in second place.

"This is a reverse of the standings on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar," Women's Prestige Cycling Series co-founder David LaPorte pointed out. "It also highlights the mission of the Series, which is to give women's teams a smaller calendar that allows them to focus on key events."

Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 Director Kristin Armstrong said the Women's Prestige Cycling Series is a priority for her team.

"The women's teams have a major voice in organizing the Series and vote on the events to include," Armstrong said. "The four Series races were included because they highlight women's racing. Our goals for the Nature Valley Grand Prix are to keep Mara in the leaders and best young rider jerseys and to defend our position as the top team."

The Women's Prestige Cycling Series is the only national bicycle racing series solely showcasing the country's top female cycling talent in four events across the country. It began at the Redlands Bicycle Classic (March 25-28) and continued at the SRAM Tour of the Gila (April 28-May 2). Following the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the finale comes at the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic (July 20-25).

For more information about the Women's Prestige Cycling Series, visit the official website, www.WomenCyclists.com.