Next on the NRC schedule is the 33rd 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 or for time trialist with a good finish kick. With the stages often ending in bunch sprints, the time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 on the finish line are of prime importance. Many teams are sending their Speedweek squads with a few additions from the SRAM Tour of the Gila.
Weather is perfect for a bike race, sunny with highs in the 70s and 80s , a nice respite after the winds, cold and snow at Gila.
Follow @podium_live on twitter for updates during the race.
3-time overall winner Rory Sutherland is skipping the race to focus on his Amgen Tour of California preparation, but his UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis is sending a fast squad. The team has won the last 5 edition of the races first as Healthnet p/b Maxxis. The team is counting on Karl Menzies and Jake Keough who each have won 2 USA Crits Speedweek events last week.
Riders to watch include overall winner of USACrits Speedweek Hilton Clarke (OUCH-Bahati), Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL), Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home), the Fly V Australia fast men Jonathan Cantwell and Bernie Sulzberger. U25 sensation at the SRAM Tour of the Gila Andrew Talanksy (CalGiant) is also racing Joe Martin. Teams also include Mountain Khakis Fuel by Jittery Joes, Spidertech, Team Type 1, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist, AeroCat Cycling Team, BikeReg.com / Cannondale, Team Hotel San Jose/Mellow Johnny’s Presednted by Subaru-Gary Fisher, Rubicon-ORBEA Benefiting LIVESTRONG, Hagens Berman and Holowesko Partners. (See complete men’s roster).
The woman to beat is defending champion Alison Powers with her Team VBF squad which also includes 2008 winner Robin Farina. She’ll have a fight on her hands against the Colavita/Baci team which dominated USACrits Speedweek including overall winner Theresa Cliff-Ryan.
Riders to watch also include Sam Schneider and Meredith Miller of TIBCO/To The Top, Erinne Willock and Katheryn Curi Mattis of Webcor Builders and Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom). Teams also include Team Kenda, Team Nanoblur-Gears, Primal/Rocky Mountain Colavita, Treads.com/DFT and Bicycles of Tulsa. (See complete women’s roster).
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 6. 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 2:00 pm for Pro Men and 3:30 pm for Pro Women. Last year, Jacques-Maynes set the fastest, a course record, of 8:03. Power’s fastest time last year was 9:37.
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 110 miles (177 km) and 5,300 feet of climbing and the women 64 miles (103 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 8, 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 1.4-mile, 13-corner course with an uphill section leading to the start/finish.. The men race for 90 minutes and the women for 60 minutes.
See cheat sheet for detailed stage info.