The Joe Martin Stage Race in it’s 39th edition featured top racing over four days in and around Fayetteville, Arkansas. The stage race, part of the UCI America Tour and USA Cycling Pro Tour attracted many of the best women’s and men’s teams. On hand were the world time trial champion Linda Villumsen of UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling Team, U.S. Road Champ Matthew Busche (also UHC), and newly crowned National Criterium Champion Lauren Tamayo (UHC as well). Top American teams including Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, Rally Cycling, Visit Dallas DNA, ISCorp and UHC battled it out on the women’s side, while Team Jamis, Holowesko-Citadel, UHC, Axeon-Hagens Berman and Canadian team Silber duked it out in the men’s race.
Thursday afternoon’s five kilometer (3.1 mile) individual time trial at Devil’s Den Stage Park initially sorted out the general classification with Villumsen crushing the TT on the women’s side. The world champ clocked the course in 10 minutes and 50 seconds a full 18 seconds faster than Eri Yomanine of Hagens Berman / Supermint. This year’s time trial course ascended the opposite way as previous edition’s route gaining altitude from the start before leveling off after three kilometers, then descending slightly before a rise to the finish. Some such as Villumsen elected to use time trial bars, while the majority chose a traditional road bike set up.
In the Pro Men’s race, Team Jamis’ Janier Acevedo had the fastest time finishing in 9:07 three seconds ahead of Silber Pro Cyclings Nigel Ellsay and Team Jamis’ Kyle Murphy. Acevedo a few weeks earlier won the uphill time trial at San Dimas and Murphy also placed third there.
Friday’s stage 2 road race covered 110 miles for the Men’s Pro 1 field, while the women raced 61.2 miles, a distance too short voiced by some of the riders. The course made a big loop west then south, before the long climb of the day to Mount Gaylor. After cresting the summit of the eleven mile climb, the field raced mostly downhill the final 27 miles into downtown Fayetteville finishing on Dickson Street with a long uphill drag. Both the women and men came to the line in a relatively large group. UnitedHealthCare’s Coryn Rivera pulled away to take the women’s win, while Team Jamis’s Sebastien Haedo out-sprinted the men’s field. Rivera gained a one second time bonus out on the course sprint point, then another ten second bonus at the finish line which mover her up to second overall in the general classification and into the green sprinter’s jersey.
The third stage started and finished southwest of Fayetteville in Prairie Grove routing the peloton to a 23 mile loop. The Pro Men raced 109 miles, the Pro Women 63 concluding with a tailwind run to the finish. After a couple of laps, the breakaway de jour established itself and was well represented by the favorite teams in the men’s race. In the end the field came together and battled to the line with UnitedHealthCare’s lead-out man Escobar Alzate taking the win ahead of teammate John Murphy. Aexeon-Hagens Berman’s Neilson Powless claimed third place and four more bonus seconds, moving Powless into third place, seven seconds behind Acevedo. Coryn Rivera took her second win in a row, besting Schneider once again and ahead of teammate Villumsen. Rivera moved to within 10 seconds of the world champion.
The Joe Martin Stage Race concluded on Sunday with a 50 minute criterium for the Pro Women and 85 minute criterium for the Pro Men. Each race came down to the finish to crown the overall winner as bonus sprint seconds were earned during the race and at the finish. Rivera finished second to Team Tibco’s Lauren Hall, but earned enough time bonuses to overtake Villumsen and win the overall in the women’s race. Team Jamis was unable to hold Acevedo’s slim margin. Axeon’s Powless won the first intermediate sprint, and placed second in the third sprint and with his second place at the finish claimed the overall general classification. Acevedo dropped to third overall with Silber’s Nigel Ellsay staying in second.