February, 2020  

International Road Cycling Race Returns to Downtown Fayetteville

The Joe Martin Stage Race, one of the top professional and amateur road cycling stage races in the nation, returns to Fayetteville, Arkansas April 2-5th, 2020. In its 43rd year, the Joe Martin Stage Race is the second oldest continually held cycling stage race in the country.

Over 4 days, a hundred professional and elite amateur road cycling teams from around the globe gather in Fayetteville for a series of race stages. Rooted in the Ozark Mountains, an expansive road network of quality pavement, diverse topography, and sweeping scenery shapes each stage. The energy culminates for the final stage – the spectator-friendly Experience Fayetteville Criterium on the streets of Historic Downtown Fayetteville.

A criterium, or “crit”, is a bike race comprised of several laps around a compact course. Crit races are commonly held on temporarily closed streets in city centers and are the prevalent type of bicycle racing in the United States. While crit courses may be shorter than other race formats, the frenzied speed and race excitement are noticeably raised.

Like a game of cat and mouse, during the race riders will commonly “attack” off the front to create a break from the main pack. Then, the racers left behind will try to chase them down. Crit races are captivating, with races often a series of attacks and chases. At the start of the last lap, referred to as the “bell” lap, officials will sound a bell signaling to riders that there is one lap to go. At this point, it’s an all-out sprint with the first rider across the finish line crowned the winner.

On Sunday, April 5th a total field of 750 cyclists - representing all 50 states and 27 different countries - will speed through the spectator lined streets of downtown Fayetteville for a delirious display as riders plunge into turns at 40mph. The race director, Bruce Dunn, will tell you “there is nothing like the sound made by cyclists buzzing by you at those speeds. You can only appreciate it by being there in person.”.

From the start line at Church Avenue and Center Street, riders race counterclockwise through Fayetteville’s Historic Downtown Square before heading north down East Avenue. A hairpin turn onto West Dickson Street sends riders flying through Fayetteville’s Entertainment District. At heart-stopping speeds, racers dive into a 90-degree turn and south onto West Avenue. From there, it’s a climb up Spring Street and onto Church Avenue to the finish line - or to do it again.

While this sounds fascinating, the best part about the Experience Fayetteville Criterium might be the atmosphere. Spectators new to the sport will find a family-friendly environment where decorated race fans (we call “the crazies”) frame the streets, friends gather for front porch watch parties, and there’s no shortage of food trucks. Brand new this year, participate in a “Crit Crawl” to win free entry into the Joe Martin Gran Fondo (held Saturday, May 30th) by visiting a variety of retail and dining establishments along the racecourse. What is the cost for spectators to take in the oddities of the Experience Fayetteville Criterium? As Bruce Dunn likes to say, “The best thing about watching a bicycle race… it’s free.”.

For more information on the Joe Martin Stage Race, the Experience Fayetteville Criterium, or the Joe Martin Gran Fondo just visit www.joemartinstagerace.com.

The Joe Martin Stage Race is produced by All Sports Productions. Visit www.allsportsproductionsinc.com for a variety of events and races held in the Fayetteville area each year.

Cycling Coordinator

Cycling Coordinator