Though a few attacks were tried in the women’s 68-mile stage at the Joe Martin Stage Race, Optum Pro Cycling-KBS kept it all together to successfully protect all three jerseys including the yellow jersey held by Carmen Small. The field came into the finish together with Team TIBCO giving a 1-2 punch. Sam Schneider took the win followed in by teammate Lauren Hall in second. Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-KBS) was third on the stage.
Small, who finished fourth on the stage, still leads the GC with four seconds on Kathryn Donovan (FCS|Rouse). Third on GC, at 46 seconds, Wilcoxson takes over the sprint jersey by gathering points in the two intermediate sprints (second and first) and at the finish. Sitting in fourth overall, Courteney Lowe (Optum-KBS) remains the best young rider.
One of the most under-rated stages in NRC stage racing did not disappoint again in the men’s race where unfortunately a crash took down a big number of riders at the front with less than two kilometers to go. Reported down were riders from Bissell, Kenda/5Hour Energy and Hagens Berman. ELBOWZ Racing’s Eric Marcotte avoided the carnage to take the team’s first NRC win. Yesterday’s winner Shawn Milne was second while best young rider, Marcotte’s teammate Joseph Schmalz was third.
Hostilities started from the gun in the 114-mile stage. A two-man break was quickly established with Scott Zwizanski (Optum Pro Cycling-KBS) and Michael Weicht (CashCall Mortgage) working together to push the gap close to two minutes as they started the first of four 23-mile loops. Each loop featured over 1,500 feet of climbing per lap on rolling terrain. The field was happy to let the two build up a gap of over three minutes by the end of the first lap making Weicht the virtual leader on the road. The calm only lasted one lap, with attacks at the front of the field amping the pace causing the duo to be reeled in on the second lap. A lot of break attempts followed in the next loop, but the right combination was never found. The field was together as they turned into the 11-mile spur to the finish. More attacks but nothing stuck as teams organized for the field sprint. And then a touch of wheels at the front and the crash.
All the riders that went down in the late race crash were given the same time as the field.
Milne’s second place moves him up to second place on GC, at 16 seconds from leader Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist). Cesar Grajales (CompetitiveCyclist) is in third at 18 seconds. Sitting in 7th overall, Schmalz remains in the white best young rider jersey. Milne holds a significant lead in the points classification.
As was shown last year, the final stage – the criterium – is not a formality. In 2011, Mancebo lost the overall when his team could not defend his seven-second lead. Expect numerous attacks on the 1.2-mile course in downtown Fayetteville. The men race for 85 minutes and the women for 55 minutes.
Top 10 Women Stage 3 Results (Complete results)
1. Samantha Schneider (Team TIBCO) 3:06:03 10
2. Lauren Hall (Team TIBCO)
3. Jace Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
4. Carmen Small (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
5. Scotti Wilborne (Leborne)
6. Emma Grant (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
7. Amity Elliott (Team Kenda p/b Geargrinder)
8. Lex Albrecht (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
9. Amy McGuire (FCS|Rouse p/b Mr Restore)
10. Annie Ewart (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
Top 10 Men Stage 3 Results (Complete results)
1. Eric Marcotte (ELBOWZ Racing) 4:14:21
2. Shawn Milne (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)
3. Joseph Schmalz (ELBOWZ Racing)
4. Andrew Dahlheim (ISSELL Pro Cycling)
5. Andy Jacques-Maynes (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)
6. Sam Johnson (Team Exergy)
7. Marlon Perez (Columbian National Team)
8. Chris Uberti (Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist)
9. David Santos (CashCall Mortgage)
10. Steve Fisher (Hagens Berman Cycling)