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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations
gvlahaki@indiana.edu
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Rob Rhamy
Little 500 Race Director
rrhamy@indiana.edu
812-855-7816

Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2004

New award will enable Little 500 competitor to train with national bike team

Finalists to be announced at race qualifications

Photo by: Chris Meyer

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Student Foundation on Saturday (March 27) will announce finalists for its inaugural TIAA-CREF MVP award as part of qualification activities for this year's Little 500 bicycle races.

The new award will enable one rider in the April 24 men's race to train with former professional cyclist Jonathan Vaughters and the nation's leading developmental team for riders under the age of 23. The award is made possible by support from TIAA-CREF, a national financial services and retirement system for higher education and research employees.

Finalists for the new award will be announced at a news conference at 1 p.m. in the Metz Lounge of Bill Armstrong Stadium, 1606 N. Fee Lane, where qualifications will be taking place. Admission is free for qualifications, which will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The public is welcome.

The award winner will be announced immediately following the conclusion of this year's men's race on Saturday, April 24th. The 17th Women's Little 500 will be on Friday, April 23.

"Finalists will be determined based on race resumes. Jonathan Vaughters will select the winner based on their Little 500 race day performance," said Rob Rhamy, Little 500 race director. "The rider will need to be under the age of 23 as well as have a solid background in United States Cycling Federation racing."

Vaughters directs the 5280 Magazine/TIAA-CREF Cycling Team, which trains riders under the age of 23 to compete professionally. The MVP award will provide one Little 500 rider with an opportunity to attend team training camps and compete to earn a spot on the team. Currently, there are 15 cyclists on the team.

Attending Little 500 qualifications will be drivers from the Indy Racing League, who will be available to meet with fans and sign autographs. The Little 500 has a longstanding connection to its motor racing cousin. The late Howard S. Wilcox, the Little 500's creator, modeled it after the Indianapolis 500, which has lent support over the years. Wilcox's father competed in the 1919 Indianapolis 500 race. The Kodak NASCAR race car also will be on display.

Little 500, now in its 54th year, is the nation's largest collegiate intramural cycling event and was featured in an Academy Award-winning film, Breaking Away, 25 years ago. Participants train all year to compete. In 1997, Lance Armstrong attended the race and said, "I've attended Super Bowls, World Series and the Monaco Grand Prix, but the coolest event I ever attended was the Little 500."

Little 500 qualifications determine the 33 teams who will compete in the men's and women's races. Teams must complete four laps around the cinder track, each rider doing one lap. Smooth bike exchanges and quick single-lap speed are essential for a good qualification time.

Tickets for Little 500 races are $20 and are available through Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster locations including the IU Auditorium Box Office, and the Indiana Memorial Union Student Activities Desk. Go to http://www.iusf.org for more information.