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Heidi Franz wins stage 2 women's race at Joe Martin Stage Race

Heidi Franz of InstaFund Racing wins stage 2 of 2022 Joe Martin Stage Race
Heidi Franz of InstaFund Racing wins stage 2 of 2022 Joe Martin Stage Race (Image credit: SnowyMountain Photography)

Heidi Franz (InstaFund Racing) won the uphill sprint on Friday on the women’s stage 2 of the Joe Martin Stage Race. Colombian road champion Diana Peñuela (DNA Pro Cycling) finished second and Austin Killips (ATX Wolfpack) was third.

The final climb up Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas saw a reduced front group of five riders, with Erica Clevenger (DNA Pro Cycling) and Emma Langley (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) trailing in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

With the victory, Franz vaults from fourth to the overall lead, now nine seconds ahead of Peñuela and 10 ahead of Killips. Skylar Schneider (L39ION of Los Angeles), finished 10th on stage 2 and moved down to ninth on GC, 43 seconds off the new leader.

Riders on stage 2 received the green flag in Greenland after 9.8km (6.1 miles) of neutral roads from Fayetteville for 108km (67 miles) heading in a reverse direction from Thursday back through Devil’s Den State Park and a long section of switchbacks in the opening third of the ride. There was one intermediate sprint and two QOM points on the schedule, including the uphill finish at Mount Sequoyah. There were also time bonuses at the finish. 

With a headwind all the way into Devil’s Den State Park, the peloton stayed together. Only one rider struck out alone, Hannah Allen (Fount Cycling Guild), who took the intermediate sprint points. Franz said she was able to scoop up two of the remaining intermediate sprint points and was carried to the line by her teammates.

“I had really I felt really good yesterday, and I was just hoping the good feelings would stick around. And usually I get worried if it's a really chill start to a stage I tend to not not feel so great towards the middle in the end, but with those little accelerations from everyone I just kept [going]  hard,” Heinz said at the finish line. 

“TIBCO kept a really high pace up over the first first climb. And then the get the descent going into the Devil's Den descent was super tactical, like such a big fight for position really fast. I managed to sort of sift my way through the chaos got down safely and and that kind of created the big group for that last part of the stage.

“My team has just kept super organized and together all through that section and allowed me to get the two bonus points in the sprint, so that was super helpful. And at that point, I knew I was feeling good.”

With 25km to go, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, L39ION of Los Angeles, DNA Pro Cycling and InstaFund had riders massed at the front of a reduce peloton of about two dozen riders, with Fount Cycling in the mix. 

The decisive move for Heinz was in the final three kilometres, where she said “for the first time I was able to hang on”. Closing in on 500 metres to go, Peñuela was the first to attack, and Heinz said she followed her wheel and was able to get around for the win.

"The last half of the race was really tactical. My team was awesome. They did just exactly what I needed them to do, stayed hidden in the pack. L39ion came back and helped cover whatever TIBCO was going to do, so yeah, in the end it was just a couple of attacks that went and we followed those."

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