Crit finish in downtown Fayetteville / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
The Joe Martin Stage race is one of the longest, continually held cycling races in the country.
The annual event enters its 45th year this week with hundreds of athletes from dozens of countries registered to participate.
The four-day race begins Thursday (May 19) and ends Sunday afternoon (May 22) in downtown Fayetteville.
While Sunday’s events are the easiest and most exciting to take in, there are options for those who want more.
New for 2022 is a live stream of Sunday’s racing on the Global Cycling Network (GCN), with commentary from cycling legend Bob Roll and Lauren Hill.
Thursday, May 19
The pros and elite amateurs begin the stage race on Thursday at Baum-Walker Stadium in south Fayetteville. The pro women’s and elite amateur men’s races are 69 miles long, while the pro men’s race is 119 miles long. All races on Thursday begin and end at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Spectating will be easiest at Baum-Walker Stadium for the start and finish, but another option is to watch the riders pass by the scenic overlook at Artist Point and then hurry back to town for the finish. Just don’t try to come back to town on Old Highway 71 or you’ll be stuck behind the race. Your best bet is to park at the rest stop just north of the scenic overlook and after the riders pass, head south on 71 towards Mountainburg and follow the sign right to take I-49 back to Fayetteville.
The anticipated finish for the elite amateur men’s race is approximately 2:15 p.m., with the pro women expected to finish at around 2:45 p.m. and the pro men’s race expected to end at about 4 p.m.
Riders at Artist Point / Flyer file photo
Friday, May 20
Day 2 includes road races that begin at Walker Park and end with a grueling finish atop Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville. If you’ve ever driven up Spring Street towards Mount Sequoyah, you know how steep things get. Imagine climbing that hill at the very end of a long race.
Each of the three races will follow the same 2.5-mile finishing stretch that leads to the finish line inside the gates of the Mount Sequoyah Center.
Aside from the finish line, other great spectating locations include anywhere along the final finishing hill climbs, including Spring Street, Fletcher Avenue, Oklahoma Way, Missouri Way, and Assembly Drive.
The anticipated finish for the elite amateur men’s race is approximately 2:15 p.m., with the pro women expected to finish at around 2:45 p.m. and the pro men’s race expected to end at about 3:30 p.m.
Riders on Spring Street / Flyer file photo
Saturday, May 21
Saturday morning is the beginning of the amateur races, which start and finish at Baum-Walker Stadium, followed by individual time trials at Devil’s Den State Park in the afternoon.
Professional riders continue earning points Saturday afternoon with the uphill time trials beginning at noon.
Spectators can catch competitors as they prepare and leave the start house, and can also walk along the three-mile uphill course (watch out for riders) or hang out at the finish line.
Depending upon arrival time, spectators must use the appropriate entry to Devil’s Den State Park. If arriving before noon, take Interstate 49 south to Exit 45, and then turn west/right on Hwy. 74. If arriving after noon, take I-49 south to Exit 53, and turn west/right to proceed south on Hwy 170 into the park.
New for 2022 is a series of kid’s crit races in the parking lot across from Baum-Walker Stadium during the amateur road racing events.
Sunday, May 22
Sunday is easily the most exciting day to take in the Joe Martin Stage Race. Both amateurs and pros will compete in criterium (or crit) races featuring multiple loops around downtown Fayetteville (see map below).
The 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.
Crits begin at 8 a.m. and are expected to last until at least 5 p.m. Kids rides are planned beginning at 1 p.m.
Walk around the full course, or hang out at the finish line in front of Arsaga’s Church & Center.
New for 2022 is a live music stage at Dickson Street and West Avenue that includes a free concert featuring Nashville-based Here Come The Mummies, along with locals Boom Kinetic and DJ Raquel starting at noon.
For those who can’t make it in person, Sunday’s racing will be broadcast live on the Global Cycling Network (GCN), with commentary from cycling legend Bob Roll and Lauren Hill.
Sunday Crit Schedule
8 a.m. – Amateur Men Cat 4,5
8:40 a.m. – Amateur Women Cat 3,4,5
8:41 a.m. – Amateur Master Women 40+, 50+
9:15 a.m. – Amateur Men Master B
10 a.m. – Amateur Men Cat 3,4
10:45 a.m. – Amateur Women Cat 2,3
11:25 a.m. – Amateur Men Master A
12:15 p.m. – Amateur Men Cat 2,3
1 p.m. – Strider Balance Bike Ride (FREE) Ages 3-7
1:20 p.m. – Kid’s Ride (FREE) Ages 3 – 9
1:30 p.m. – Open programming
2 p.m. – Amateur Elite Men
3 p.m. – Pro Women
4 p.m. – Pro Men
Riders on Dickson Street / Flyer file photo