Maggie Coles-Lyster (DNA Pro Cycling Team) won the finale, stage 4, at the Joe Martin Stage Race. The Canadian won the sprint to the line ahead of Skylar Schneider and Shayna Powless (L39ION of Los Angeles) in Fayetteville.
Emma Langley (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) secured the overall title ahead of Austin Killips (ATX Wolfpack) and Heidi Franz (InstaFund Racing).
The final stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race was a 16-lap criterium held on a technical 1.2km course with an uphill finish in Fayetteville. EF Education-TIBCO-SVB took immediate control at the front of the field to protect stage 3 time trial winner and overall race leader Langley.
"We weren't entirely sure what the other teams were going to throw at us, so we knew we just had to be on our A-game and control the front," said Langley. "And the girls did just that for me.”
Franz took the first sprint for points and bonuses bringing her closer in the overall classification to second-placed rider Killips. Franz started the day just eight second behind Killips in the overall.
Her effort was followed by an attack from Schneider, who cleared the field with 12 laps to go. A group bridged across to Schneider but the move was shut down ahead of the next sprint with nine laps to go.
Franz took the sprint again, for points and time, over the finish line climb and then cleared the field with Diana Penuela (DNA Pro Cycling Team) with eight to go. That move, too, was reeled back in by EF Education-TIBCO-SVB's supreme team work to set pace at the front of the peloton.
Killips jumped from the field with six laps to go causing the field to extend single file, and briefly catching Langley toward the back, but it all came back together at the end of that lap.
Killips attacked again with five to go but EF Education-TIBCO-SVB were much quicker to respond with US Champion Lauren Stephens keeping the field together with four teammates, as L39ION of Los Angeles moved in just behind.
Florence Chardon (Fount Cycling Guild) attacked at the top of the finish line climb with three laps to go, but her efforts were short-lived as L39ION of Los Angeles moved forward in the last three laps.
"The last couple of laps, honestly, it got a little chaotic," said Coles-Lyster. "The last three laps kind of rushed up on us and I felt like I kept getting shuffled back but then I had a couple teammates there with me just helping, giving me space and bringing me back up to the front."
L39ION of Los Angeles, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, InstaFund Racing, DNA Pro Cycling were the dominant teams seeing two laps to go, with Stephens doing the bulk of the work to keep the race together through the bell lap.
L39ION of Los Angeles took over in the final 800 metres with four riders and DNA Pro Cycling's Coles-Lyster also decided that she would tuck in behind. Shayna Powless launched the L39ION of Los Angeles lead-out with Skylar Schneider on her wheel, but in the sprint to the line it was Coles-Lyster who took the victory, turning around what had been a tough month. The 23-year-old hit her head in a crash at the Tour of Gila and had to withdraw.
“It was a little touch and go a couple of weeks ago whether I was even going to be here but to have recovered, got a couple of days of training in, and then to come here and help the team in the past few races and win the crit is just unbelievable," said Coles-Lyster. "This is my first UCI win and it's just an amazing thing."
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