I am down in Arkansas with a few of my Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist teammates for the Joe Martin Stage Race. I came down hoping for a better experience than last year when it was a struggle the entire time.
The first stage was a 2.5 mile uphill TT which I really wanted to do well in. I was one of the last ones off. I started off and immediately felt great. I rode as hard as I could and was satisfied with my ride as soon as I crossed the line. My time was 8:47 which was 30 seconds faster than last year. My time put me 37th on the day. I was hoping for a little higher but I could not have went harder so I am happy with it.
Today was Stage 2, a 110 mile road race with plenty of climbing. I attempted a few times to get into the day's break but to no avail. I decided after a few attacks to sit in for the rest of the day and try my luck at the finish. The run into the finish was crazy with about 5 teams trying to set up their leadouts. I had a hard time staying in the top 15 but knew that the last half mile was very hard with 3 steep climbs including one up to the finish. I kept my head down and and stayed glued to the lead group, crossing with the leaders and getting the same time as the stage winner. I was officially 34th on the day which moved me up to 28th on GC. I came here with the goal of a top 25 overall finish so that is still the plan.
My teammate Ryan Aitcheson had a hell of a ride today, getting 9th on the stage. There are 2 stages left including 110 miles tomorrow with some serious climbing. The hills tomorrow, while shorter, are much steeper so hopefully the lead group will get whittled down and I can continue moving up! The last stage is on Sunday with a fast crit. I am hoping for some good finishes and most importantly finishing my goal of top 25.
I will attempt to keep updating. Thanks for reading.