MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The 17th annual North Star Grand Prix is underway.

Executive Director David La Porte says the event is the most prestigious race on the USA Cycling Racing Calendar.
He says the riders are not in it for the money.

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“I think the total prize is $25,000, which gets spread out for a number of categories,” La Porte said. “It’s not like the PGA, where the winners get a million dollars. The riders do it because they love it.”

New this year, three time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond will lead a group of CEOs on a ride to support Special Olympics Minnesota.

“This will be a ride, because you don’t want to race against Special Olympians if you’re a three time Tour de France winner. It just wouldn’t be fair,” he said.

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The pro stage started Wednesday morning with time trials along St. Paul’s Mississippi River Boulevard, and there will be a new evening event in Lowertown by Mears Park.

La Porte says there will be a road race in and around Cannon Falls on June 18, followed by an evening event in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood on Friday night.

He said cycling teams will travel east to Menomonie, Wisconsin, on Saturday for a road race there.

The race culminates on Sunday, June 21, with an event in Stillwater.

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It includes a brutal 24 percent grade climb up Chilkoot Hill, which is considered the most difficult climb in North American Racing.