One of the longest, continually held cycling races in the country returns to Fayetteville this week, and concludes with a high-speed criterium race in the Dickson Street and downtown areas.
The Joe Martin Stage Race enters its 46th year with what organizers are calling the largest field of professional competitors in the history of the race.
The four-day event begins Thursday (May 18) and ends Sunday afternoon (May 21). The first three days include two road races that start and finish in varying locations and an individual time trial at Devil’s Den State Park.
While the first three events are possible to watch, Sunday’s races are by far the most exciting for spectators. Sunday’s events begin with amateur races in the morning before the pro women and men line up for the conclusion of the stage race.
The criteriums (or crits) serve as the final stage of the race as the leaders hope to hold their advantages and the others attempt to overtake them in the overall standings. The racing action is always fast and furious with riders hitting speeds of over 35 miles per hour while riding within inches of each other through 90-degree turns. Each lap includes a high-speed turn in front of the Walton Arts Center at the bottom of Dickson Street and a grueling climb up Church Avenue towards the finish line in front of Arsaga’s.
The pro women race at 3 p.m. Sunday and the pro men race at 4 p.m.
A kids ride, and the new All Wheels Welcome event are also scheduled for Sunday behind the Fayetteville Visitor’s Center on the downtown square.
All Wheels Welcome, scheduled from 12-4 p.m., will include a roller skating and skateboarding exhibition and pop-up skate park, all ages monster trike races, remote control car racing, the Community Creative Center’s Wheel Mobile, pickleball, and more.
Sunday’s race course map
Pro women’s race – 2022
Pro men’s race – 2022
All photos by Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer