Rally Cycling arrived in Fayetteville, Arkansas today for the first major stop on USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour calendar, the Joe Martin Stage Race. The race, with over 40 years of history, offers up a variety of courses and stiff competition in the shadow of Ozark National Forest.
The women are fresh off of a triple stage win performance at the Chico Stage Race last month and bring a roster capable of racing aggressively on these demanding courses. Rally Cycling will start Erica Allar, Sara Bergen, Heidi Franz, Megan Heath, Katherine Maine, and Summer Moak in northwest Arkansas.
The race runs from April 12 – 15 and opens with a 68 mile road race and hilltop finish to Mt. Sequoyah. Stage two, a 64 mile road race, is one for the sprinters with no major difficulties on route. The decisive 4 mile uphill time trial out of Devil’s Den State Park awaits the riders on stage three, and the race closes with a criterium featuring 16 passes of the grueling Church St climb.
“In years past, sprinters could stay close in the general classification and claw back with time bonuses later in the week,” said Team Director Zach Bell about Joe Martin. “But with the new hilltop finish and mid-stage climb out of Devil’s Den on stage one, the race will be more of a classic GC battle.”
The strongest climbers are expected to tackle the 3km finishing climb on stage one and set the pecking order for the general classification. The team will look to keep Sara Bergen and Heidi Franz out of trouble in order to contest the finish. Stage two will be reserved for the fast women like Erica Allar and Summer Moak, as teams targeting the overall jockey to keep their leaders on even ground. The stage uphill three time trial will be the penultimate test for riders looking to gain back precious seconds heading into the final day. Stage four will be a throwdown in downtown Fayetteville as Katherine Maine and Megan Heath target the stage win while supporting the team’s GC riders.
With the team’s next three stage races being on the international UCI calendar, the competition will be stiff and lay the groundwork for the season ahead.
“It’s the start of the formal season and a testing ground for some of the younger roster members,” said Bell. “We’ll be chasing both stage victories and the GC. With Tour of the Gila and Tour of California on the horizon, the team’s performance in Arkansas will serve as a good measuring stick moving forward.”
Director: Zach Bell