Fayetteville to host three professional bike races in 2021

Joe Martin Stage Race / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville will host three professional bike races in three separate disciplines in 2021.

Aside from the US Pro Cup mountain bike races announced last month, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) management committee last week announced that Fayetteville will host a cyclocross World Cup event, and organizers of the Joe Martin Stage Race on Sunday announced the return of that race.

Mountain bike racing

The OZ Trails US Pro Cup will serve as a qualifier for cross country mountain bikers vying for a spot on Team USA for the Tokyo games. That event will be held over two weekends, April 9-11 and April 16-18, at Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain.

Centennial Park is one of seven venues announced last month for the 2021 Pro Cross-Country Tour (ProXCT), which will include eight weekends of racing from March through late July. The tour begins with the US Cup Vail Lake in Temecula, California. Other stops are planned in Utah, Wisconsin, Montana and Colorado.

Spectators can expect to see a deep field of U.S. and international riders representing past and future Olympians, national champions and continental and world champions.

In addition to hosting professional riders, the Fayetteville event will offer points for junior boys and girls to help qualify select riders for racing in Europe and to represent Team USA at the 2021 World Championships.

Cyclocross racing

The cyclocross World Cup will also take place at Centennial Park as part of the third annual FayetteCross event on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

As a World Cup event, the races will offer a preview of the course that was purposely designed to host the UCI’s World Championships in Fayetteville in 2022. The event, which will feature athletes from more than 25 countries.

FayetteCross / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

“I can confidently say there is no other cyclocross course like this in the United States, perhaps anywhere,” said Brook Watts, FayetteCross race director. “We have been building this course for the past 16 months, with each meter of the course dedicated to bringing the best out of this beautiful Fayetteville mountainside. It has daredevil chutes, a lung-busting climb challenging off-camber sections plus a 38-step climb that will test the racers. And, to the delight of spectators, most of the course is accessible with ease, even the wooded sections.”

FayetteCross / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Road bike racing

The Joe Martin Stage Race is the oldest continually held cycling stage race in the country. The 2020 event didn’t happen because of the pandemic, but the race is set to return to Fayetteville Aug. 26-29.

During the event, professional and elite amateur men and women road cycling teams gather in Fayetteville for a series of race stages that include time trials, road races and criteriums.

Joe Martin Stage Race on Dickson Street / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The weekend events culminate with the fourth and final stage, the spectator-friendly Experience Fayetteville Criterium held in downtown Fayetteville.

This year will mark the 44th edition of the amateur races, the 19th anniversary of the event being part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour and the 7th year on the UCI America Tour schedule.

Originally known as the Fayetteville Spring Classic, the race was renamed in memory of longtime race director Joe Martin after he died in 1989. The event’s long history was a deciding factor when the UCI recently awarded Fayetteville the Bike City label, which was the first time a city in the United States has ever received the international designation.

Joe Martin Stage Race on Spring Street / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The Fayetteville events are organized in partnership with Experience Fayetteville, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.

“We look forward to welcoming these cycling teams to Fayetteville,” said Molly Rawn, Experience Fayetteville CEO. “The city and surrounding area’s geography make Fayetteville one of the best places to ride, and I can’t wait for these athletes to experience it.”