Preview: #JMSR2012

Team TIBCO is in Fayetteville, AK to defend our NRC series team lead at the four day Joe Martin Stage Race. It’s my fourth year here. Last year, we took second overall at JMSR with Megan Guarnier and while she’s currently chasing UCI points in Europe with the U.S. National team, we’re hoping to go one better and walk away with the win. The NRC series is a major objective for the team, so the overall win and stage wins are a critical part of meeting the goal.

I remember my first year at Joe Martin. I crashed at Tulsa pretty badly the weekend prior, and I remember hyperventilating in the shower as I cleaned out my road rash. It was a mess. I fought my way through the race the first year. I was hurting quite a bit.

Joe Martin for me is nearly as much about the host families as it about the racing. I like coming back here because I’ve stayed with the same family the last four years. It feels a little bit like coming home. I’ve gotten to see my host family’s daughters grow up. It’s comforting to sit back and chat with a family that I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the years. We keep up with one another on Facebook between each race. It’s a pretty unique bond we come to share with the families that host us year in and year out.

Joe Martin kicks off with the Devil’s Den State Park time trial. The uphill effort is short – just 2.5 miles – and it favors a good, powerful all-around rider rather than a pure time trialist. The first 30-40 seconds are flat and fast. Then, the road kicks up and it’s uphill to the finish.

Two road stages follow the time trial. We have a hilly circuit race on Sunday that includes one steep climb each lap. The rest of the course features plenty of rollers. Depending on how the field chooses to race this stage, it can be a really hard day in the saddle. Last year, the bunch broke up a bit over the climbs — and the stage featured a new harder finish than we had seen in previous editions.

The point-to-point race on Sunday typically comes down to a sprint. There’s one big climb in the final two-thirds of the race, but it’s far enough from the finish and is followed by a fast descent, so there’s enough time for things to come back together. It’s another hard finale with a little kicker before a right-hand turn leading to an uphill finish. Like the time trial, expect a strong rider with a good finishing kick to win this stage.

The criterium on Sunday is just hard. It hurts. A lot. It course includes a good climb that practically guarantees the race to break up. Riders will get dropped every lap. At the finish, it’s usually one rider crossing the line at the time as they make their way uphill towards the finish.

It’s a small field, but I suspect we’ll have a good battle on our hands with Optum Health. They bring a full squad, and they know how to race smart. We’ll both be going for it. I’m interested to see how things pan out.

Date: April 26-April 29


Live updates – @JoeMartinStageRace is the official race twitter; will update if other live updaters surface
Official hastag – #jmsr2012

Team TIBCO for Joe Martin Stage Race:
Lauren Hall
Amanda Miller
Merdith Miller
Jen Purcell
Kendall Ryan
Sam Schneider
Jennifer Wheeler

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