Minneapolis - A national program is offering race promoters the opportunity to send their top amateurs to the 2009 edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix (Minnesota, June 10-14) to compete against the country's top men and women professional bicycle racers.

Entering its second year, the "Nature Valley Pro Ride" will select amateur men and women at regional races around the United States to become part of a pair of Nature Valley composite teams for the 11th annual edition of the five-day stage race that begins June 10.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix ranks as one of the premier events on the USA Cycling National Race Calendar (NRC) each year, attracting tens of thousands of cycling enthusiasts, pro athletes and avid recreational riders to Minnesota.

"This is a chance for a race promoter to raise the participation and visibility of their event at no extra cost," Nature Valley Grand Prix Race Director David LaPorte said. "As for the riders who are selected, they can look forward to racing in front of huge crowds and being treated like a rock star at our event."

Amateur racers (Category I men and Category 1,2 women) who qualify at a Nature Valley Pro Ride event receive a "battlefield promotion" that earns them free entry to the race, travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite team.

Races that become part of the Nature Valley Pro Ride schedule can expect an aggressive marketing and media relations campaign, as well as on-site sampling of Nature Valley Granola Bars and complimentary staffing of the booth by company representatives.

"We're looking for the top regional races who want to take their game to a higher level," LaPorte said. "We'll consider road races, criteriums and stage races, as long as they get strong fields. And our promotional programs will make those fields even stronger."

To be considered for the 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride, a race must be permitted through USA Cycling and take place no later than June 7. Preference will be given to races that take place between February and mid-May.

Interested promoters must submit their application by Dec. 15. More details and a downloadable application can be found at www.naturevalleyproride.com.

The 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride schedule will be announced Jan. 5, 2009.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Nature Valley Grand Prix began as a one-day criterium in Saint Paul in 1999. Its schedule and prestige have grown steadily until now, in its 11th year, it is ranked at the top of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix schedule includes a unique mix of three criteriums (short circuit races), two road races and a time trial as the stages of the race move from downtown Saint Paul, to Cannon Falls, to Minneapolis, to Mankato, and, finally culminates in Stillwater. For more information visit: www.NatureValleyGrandPrix.com

About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products.