Next on the NRC schedule is the 32nd edition of the Joe Martin Stage Race in Northwest Arkansas.
The four stages, featuring two road races, one individual time trial and one crit – the same as last year – make the race suited well for power sprinters that can keep their own in the time trial. The weather could be a factor – as there are chances of rain and thunderstorms every day of the race.
The teams. Two times winner Rory Sutherland is returning with his OUCH squad who will be counting on Sunny King Crit winner Karl Menzies and Andrew Pinfold for the overall. Kelly Benefit Strategies is bringing a young team with 2008 Tour of Pennsylvania winner David Veilleux in his first race back since breaking his collarbone at the start of the year, and Jake Erker who raced quite aggressively at the Tour of Thailand. Hoping to get rid of his bad luck from Gila, Keven Lacombe of the Canadian team Planet Energy is definitely a man to watch along with his teammate Martin Gilbert. Hoping to capitalize on Phil Zajicek‘s win at the Gila Monster will be his Fly V Australia squad.
Other teams and riders to watch include Colavita/Sutter Home’s Luis Amaran, BISSELL’s Ben jacques-Maynes and Tom Zirbel, Jelly Belly, USA Crits Speed Week winning team Mt Khakis, Athens Twilight winner Heath Blackgrove (Team Hotel San Jose), Team Type 1 and Land Rover-ORBEA’s Roman van Uden and Mike Northey.
It should be quite the battle in the women’s race between TIBCO, Webcor Builders, Team Type 1 and Value Act Capital in the women’s race, as the Joe Martin Stage Race is the second stop of the 2009 Women’s Prestige Cycling Series. Trying to upset the apple cart will be the Jazz Apples team with its combination of American and New Zealand riders.
Returning from Europe, 2007 winner Kat Carroll is joining up with her teammates including US Crit Champion Brooke Miller who have won four of the six crits during the Southeast Crits series and hoping to capitalize on that momentum to claim victory in Arkansas. Last year’s winner Robin Farina is returning with her new team Value Act Capital after winning the overall team classification at the Tour of the Gila. Team Type 1 will be lead by Alison Powers who finished second at Gila riding solo as the rest of the team was racing in the Southeast Crits.
At the first race in the WPCS in Redlands, Team Type 1 and TIBCO traded blows, each claiming the lead in two of the four competitions. Look for Webcor Builders, a consistent WPCS powerhouse, to put in a strong challenge as well at Joe Martin.
The individual WPCS competition is still up for grabs since all of the top five women in the standings will be on the startling line. Powers, with the aid of her Team Type 1 teammates, will be trying to protect her narrow lead, but she’ll be chased by former US National champion Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders), Lauren Tamayo (TIBCO), Kristin Sanders (ValueAct) and Meredith Miller (TIBCO), in second through fifth, respectively.
The WPCS Sprint Classification is looking to be a battle between Team Type 1 and TIBCO. Team Type 1 holds the first and third positions (Kori Seehafer & Powers), while Team TIBCO holds fourth and fifth (Tamayo and Joanne Kiesanowski). Colavita-Sutter Home is not currently on the start list.
The stages. The race begins with the time trial, a 2.5-mile (4km) climb out of Devil’s Den State Park on Thursday, May 7. The course starts off with a brief flat section before the road steadily climbs 680 feet to the finish with an average grade of 6.8%, with most of the climb at 10%. Start times are 3:00 pm for Pro Men and 4:30 pm for Pro Women.
Friday’s road race goes straight into the hills, with multiple climbs. Starting from a Wal-Mart parking lot, the men’s field will cover 112 miles (180 km) and over 5,400 feet of climbing and the women 69 miles (111 km) over 3,500. There is a 9.2 mile section with an average grade of 2.7%, and the finishing straight has a 6% uphill grade over the last 350 meters.
The third stage and second road race is held on Saturday, May 9. A challenging course with climbs, beautiful scenery and a slight downhill finish. The main portion of the course – which starts and finishes in Fayetteville, is a 23-mile loop that features over 1,500 feet of climbing per lap, with the men doing 3 loops for 92 miles (148 km) in total and the women 2 loops for a total of 69 miles (111 km).
The final stage is the Sunday criterium in downtown Fayetteville, held on a technical 1.3-mile, 8-corner course with a tough climb to the finish that burns legs as the race progresses. The men race for 90 minutes and the women for 60 minutes.
Time bonuses which have come into play in the past are awarded at the finish for both road race stages and criterium:
- Road stages: Top 3 finishers: 15, 10 and 5 seconds, respectively.
- Criterium: Top 3 finishers: 10, 7 and 5 seconds, respectively.