Joe Martin Stage Race celebrates 35th anniversary

Fayetteville, Arkansas' Joe Martin Stage Race will be celebrating its 35th edition when the event kicks off on April 26 with a 2.5-mile uphill time trial at Devil's Den State Park on Thursday.

The race began as the Fayetteville Spring Classic cycle race in 1978, but was re-named after the death of long-time race director Joe Martin in 1988. It is the third stop on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC).

"Being able to celebrate 35 years of any event, especially this race, speaks a lot about this community, the racers, and the fans that come and support it," said Bruce Dunn, race director and owner of All Sports Productions, Inc. "A lot of great races aren't around after 10 years, and here we are, celebrating our 35th year as a race. That is such a great accomplishment for the community and for the supporters of this event."

The four-day, four-stage race will offer more than $55,000 in cash and merchandise to competitors across 11 categories in addition to important NRC points for elite men and women.

Defending men's champion Frank Pipp will return with the Bissell Pro Cycling Team, which last year helped him wrest the race's overall lead from Spaniard Francisco Mancebo on the final stage.

Mancebo will be out for revenge with his Competitive Cyclist team, according to his director Gord Fraser. "Last year we came to Joe Martin to win the overall prize and we literally had the leader's jersey ripped off our backs. This year's race is one of our key events and we will be coming for the win."

In the women's field, a new winner is guaranteed with the absence of last year's race winner Janel Holcomb (Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies), and 2010 winner and US road race champion Robin Farina (Now & Novartis).

The race begins Thursday, April 26th with a 2.5-mile climb out of Devil's Den State Park, continues with a road race (110 miles for men, 64 for women) on Friday.

On Saturday, another road race of 69 miles for women and 114 for men is followed by a criterium on Sunday around the Fayetteville square.

"The really special thing about the Joe Martin is the people that return to Fayetteville," Dunn said. "These are the people that make this race bigger and better every year. But more importantly, this race has attracted those riders back to the area for vacations with their families. They come back every year for the race, but we know that they are starting to come back because of the attraction of the area and the city of Fayetteville."

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