Two events headline U.S. racing this week as the peloton rolls toward the Amgen Tour of California. The Joe Martin Stage Race kicks off Thursday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, while the collegiates road trip to Madison, Wisconsin, for the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
Joe Martin Stage Race ─ Fayetteville, Arkansas
The National Racing Calendar moves to the South this week for the Joe Martin Stage Race. Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) is back in Fayetteville to defend her 2009 overall title. Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) won the men’s race every year 2007-2009, but won’t be in Arkansas as he preps for California; his UHC director Gord Fraser, who won’t be in Arkansas either, won the 2006 edition.
The race opens with a brief time trial. The effort is barely longer than a prologue, yet the route climbs 6.8-percent average gradient. Stage 2 and 3 are road races that, if the wind that is racking the state holds, will be extremely challenging. The course profiles each day include very little down time and a peloton peaking for California (or looking to prove they belong there) on the men’s side should make for incredibly difficult racing.
The final day criterium is one of the most challenging in the States, with 12 corners and a new uphill finish. With a number of riders in the men’s and women’s pelotons going well against the clock, the four-stage race should go right down to the wire.
Joe Martin Stage Race
Stage 1 Thursday May 6: Individual Time Trial, 2.5 miles (men and women)
Stage 2 Friday May 7: Road Race, 110 miles (men)/64 miles (women)
Stage 3 Saturday May 8: Road Race, 92 miles (men)/69 miles (women)
Stage 4 Sunday May 9: Criterium, 90 minutes (men), 60 minutes (women)
USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships ─ Madison, Wisconsin
Passenger vans are pulling into Madison, Wisconsin, Thursday morning as the collegiate road nationals get underway. Collegiate nationals are usually a mish-mash of elite and pro riders qualified to take part through their conference competitions during the spring.
Powerhouses Lee’s McRae and Fort Lewis College should contend for the Division I omnium title, while the Division II title is always left more up for grabs with smaller teams, though no less talent at the front of the race.
Ascending podium finishers will look for a result to forward their hopeful pro careers. The women’s race will have the annual distinction of qualifying a team of collegiate powers to race as a composite squad at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June.
Nick Frey and Jamie Driscoll both signed to Jamis-Sutter Home for 2010 after winning the road race a year ago. Carla Swart won the women’s DI road race in 2009 and joined Vera Bradley Foundation this season. The Blue Mounds course, which would have been home to the Olympic road race had Chicago won their recent bid, may be home to the ascension of another crop of collegiates-turned pros.
Day 1 Friday May 7: Blue Mounds Road Race, 73 miles (DI & DII men)/59 miles (DI & DII women)
Day 2 Saturday May 8: Criterium, 60 minutes (DI & DII men)/45 minutes (DI & DII women)
Day 3 Sunday May 9: Team Time Trial