The women of Rally UHC Cycling look to keep the momentum rolling at the Joe Martin Stage Race this week in Arkansas. The iconic American stage race follows a stellar performance at the Redlands Bicycle Classic that included stage wins for Megan Jastrab and Krista Doebel-Hickok.
Centered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Joe Martin Stage Race enters its 42nd year. Running April 4 – 7, the race favors strong riders with every stage sending the peloton through the hills. Traditionally, the battle for the yellow jersey is largely decided on a 5 km climb out of Devil’s Den State Park during the stage three time trial.
Last year, Sara Bergen, the current Canadian Criterium Champion, won stage two en route to finishing second overall. In preparation for this year’s event, she’s trying something different in hopes it will help her claim the overall title.
Listen to Bergen’s thoughts on the Arkansas race via her Audio Blog
“I’ve been training up at 7,800 ft in Mammoth Lakes, CA,” said Bergen. “Joe Martin will determine if altitude training becomes part of my race preparation in the future.”
When asked if she expected to repeat her triple-podium performance from a year ago, Bergen’s thoughts immediately turned to the team’s strength in numbers.
“The great thing about this year is that we have multiple cards to play,” said Bergen. “We have a lot of fast legs coming off the track with Allison Beveridge and Emma White as well as some good climbing talent with Sara Poidevin and Krista Doebel-Hickok.”
While Bergen was training in Mammoth, she followed her teammates’ performance during March’s Redlands Bicycle Classic and found inspiration in their achievements.
“I’m looking forward to racing with my teammates,” said Bergen. “We talk a lot and I was closely following everything they did at Redlands. It’s really encouraging to see how they pulled together and still had a really solid week on the bike given that tough emotional time.”
Joe Martin Stage Race roster
April 4: Stage 1 – Mount Sequoyah Road Race (109 km), 3 km finishing climb
April 5: Stage 2 – Fayetteville Road Race (106 km), Hilly course, uphill drag to the line
April 6: Stage 3 – Devils Den State Park TT (5 km), Uphill time trial, 5% gradient, 8 switchbacks
April 7: Stage 4 – Fayetteville Criterium (16 laps), 2 km course finishes with Church St climb