Organizers cancel 2024 Joe Martin Stage Race

Bryan Gomez (right) overtakes Tyler Williams with a thrilling last-second bike throw in the pro men’s criterium during the final event of the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville in 2022.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

One of the longest, continually held cycling races in the country has been cancelled this year.

The 2024 Joe Martin Stage Race, which would’ve seen its 47 edition event this year, will not happen as planned, but could return in 2025, according to Bruce Dunn, race director and owner of All Sports Productions.

“After 46 years of amateur stage racing, 21 years on the USA Cycling professional calendar and 9 years on the UCI international calendar we’ve had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the 2024 event due to the rising costs of producing a multi-day stage race coupled with limited corporate and stakeholder sponsorship and funding,” Dunn said.

The race, which began as an amateur event in 1978 as the Fayetteville Spring Classic, was renamed in 1989 in honor of its long-time race director. It has since grown to include four days of professional bike racing as an annual stop on the UCI Americas Tour calendar, including two road races, an uphill time trial and a criterium through the streets of downtown Fayetteville.

Dunn said road racing flourished in Arkansas after the professional category was added in 2003. When the group applied for international sanctioning on the UCI calendar in 2013, the event began to attract riders from as many as 10 countries each year.

“The world discovered Arkansas through bike racing,” said Dunn. “We have literally been bringing the world of professional cycling to Arkansas for over two decades and the pathway to the Olympics, World Championships and the World Tour Teams and events such as the Tour de France have included the Joe Martin Stage Race,” he said.

The race served as a springboard for many U.S. cyclists who went on to compete on the world stage, including 2016 winner Neilson Powless, who wore the polka dot jersey in the 2023 Tour de France as the best climber for 12 stages.

Pro cyclists race along Mountain Street toward the downtown square during the 2022 Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

With amateur participation fading in recent years, however, the two-day amateur format was reduced to a single criterium race in 2023.

Dunn said All Sports is committed to finding future sponsors for the professional race in hopes of bringing it back.

“With 14 months to plan for 2025, we will be working tirelessly to secure a top-tier line-up of sponsors,” said Dunn. “This race would not have been possible over the years without the sponsors, volunteers and others within the Fayetteville community who have done so much and I look forward to continuing in partnership with them in the future.”

The Joe Martin Stage Race was All Sports Productions’ first event. The group also produces and promotes the Big Dam Bridge 100, Fayetteville Half Marathon, Highlands Gravel Classic, DeGray Lake Triathlon, and several other bicycle and running events.

Pro cyclists race up Church Avenue during the 2022 Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)