Fayetteville to host another pro cycling team training camp

Fayetteville will once again play host a professional cycling team’s annual training camp.

Beginning Saturday, March 13, Project Echelon Racing will spend a week in town loading up on miles and camaraderie in preparation for the upcoming racing season.

It’s the second time the city has hosted a pro team in recent years. Hagens Berman Axeon, led by Belgian former pro bike racer Axel Merckx, spent 10 days in Fayetteville in 2019 as part of it’s pre-season team building plans.

Project Echelon, which also serves as a veterans nonprofit organization, has a self-described mission “to educate, equip, and empower veterans and their community through physical activity and self discovery.”

The team, which served over 200 veterans and donated over $35,000 in veteran grants in 2020, has high hopes for the new year. Organizers said the goal is to not only continue that service, but also to create more opportunities for veterans through cycling by donating 100 bikes to veterans on Veterans Day 2021 through its Ride 2 Stop Suicide campaign.

Project Echelon is no stranger to Fayetteville. The team makes the annual trip each year to compete in the Joe Martin Stage Race.

Eric Hill, the team’s founder, said the city is a great fit for both the team’s on- and off-bike priorities.

“With endless road, gravel, and trail options, the area offers a diverse set of world class riding,” said Hill. “The Fayetteville area also has a strong veteran population and a nationally recognized Veterans Hospital, which we are excited to engage with through some community service work during our time at camp.”

The city’s tourism bureau will provide support for the team while they’re in town, said Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville.

“My team and I are always eager to welcome visitors and promote Fayetteville,” said Rawn. “Working with the Project Echelon racing team, and their great mission, not only helps us showcase our cycling amenities but allows us to make a positive impact in our community through tourism.”

Project Echelon Racing’s Matt Zimmer won stage 2 of the 2019 Joe Martin Stage Race / Courtesy photo

Those who’d like to support the team’s #RacingForVeterans mission can donate at projectechelonracing.com, follow them on Facebook or Instagram, or just say hello when they’re riding the streets of Fayetteville next week.

Fayetteville was recently awarded the designation of Bike City by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body of cycling. It’s the first time a city in the United States has received the award.

The city will host three professional bike races in three separate disciplines this year.

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.

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

The Joe Martin Stage Race, which is the oldest continually held cycling stage race in the country, is set to return to Fayetteville Aug. 26-29.