Stage 3, Joe Martin Stage Race in Category 2/3, was a criterium located downtown Fayetteville, AR. The course was somewhat technical with two long, straight downhill sections that bomb into 90 degree turns. One of the downhill sections included brick crosswalks and ate up pavement. There was one section, after the second downhill section that had a strong head wind. After this head wind section there was a right hand turn into a short but steep climb. The climb is a 20-30 second effort that crests at the finish line. According to Strava my fastest time up the climb was 22s averaging 567w (7.5 w/kg). Not surprisingly this was the final ascent of the climb.
Our race started just before noon with gray skies but luckily no precipitation. The length was set for 45 minutes which resulted in 14 laps around the course (average lap time 2:58). The first lap was hard and fast as always. Everybody was jockeying for position. I was stuck in the middle of the group but moved up during the first downhill section. The first downhill section was wide enough to make moves. You just had to make sure to push back to the right as you got to the bottom so you could take the left hand turn without losing speed. My game plan going into the crit was hold nothing back. I had lost too much time on the road race to have a shot at GC so I figured I would just mess around and maybe see if I can get a breakaway to stick. I made at least 3 attempts throughout the race for a breakaway. The first time it was with a small group (total of 3 guys). Once we hit the headwind section, just prior to the climb, we gave up. Another time, towards the end of the crit I attempted to go solo. There was an attack from a COGA rider and he had a gap to the field. I chased for an entire lap but couldn’t bridge the gap. I ended up getting caught at the top of the climb with 2 laps to go. At this point I decided to recover for a lap and then try to move up on the final lap. I made up some ground on the final lap but it wasn’t enough to make a difference. The COGA rider soloed to victory and I ended up getting a pack finish.