Wildlife Generation claims 1-2 at Joe Martin Stage Race
Fresh from Europe, Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling arrived at the 2022 Walmart Joe Martin Stage Race firing on all cylinders last weekend, taking the overall victory, the sprint jersey, two stage wins and the team classification in Fayetteville after four days of racing.
Australian Jonathan Clarke took the solo victory on stage one and held the overall lead for the entire race, almost identical to how he won the Arkansas stage race in 2015, so that he rode for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling.
Clarke’s teammate Noah Granigan finished second overall and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) took third.
The Walmart Joe Martin Stage Race, held May 19-22, has been a staple of the American road racing scene for two decades. This year offered even more for runners and fans after organizers secured Walmart as their new title sponsor, allowing them to fund a live stream on the final day. With just four UCI-sanctioned races remaining in the United States, Joe Martin has attracted a strong group of elite men and women, more driven by his tradition of equal prize money.
How the race was won
Kicking off the four-day event was the Mount Gaylor Road Race, a 190km loop around Fayetteville that featured over 2,225m of climbing.
Australian Jonathan Clarke (Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling) took the solo stage victory to the finish 21 seconds ahead of teammate Noah Granigan, making Wildlife Generation the team to beat for the rest of the race.
Fresh off a victory at the Redlands Bicycle Classic the previous month, Project Echelon’s Tyler Stites took third place.
“We’re just looking to get the momentum and keep it going,” Clarke said. “It’s mainly a young team. I’m the former statesman of the team, so it’s good when I get a result, and I look at how excited the young boys are to help me. , and I think that’s also a good lesson for them to learn how to defend a race.”
Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling’s dominance continued on Joe Martin’s second day. Noah Granigan claimed victory atop Mount Sequoyah after 167km of racing on a hilly course similar to the day before. Mexican road champion Eder Frayre (L39ion of Los Angeles) was a close second, and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) was third once again.
The overall lead remained unchanged, with Jonny Clarke finishing seventh on the day, still in the leader’s jersey, 21 seconds clear of stage winner Granigan.
“We had an incredible schedule racing the Tour of Turkey against some of the best in the world,” said Granigan, whose team was racing together in the United States for the first time since the pandemic. “Coming back to the United States and being able to confirm that shows how strong the whole team is from top to bottom. I’m happy to be racing in America again, and even better to win.”
The Devils Den time trial was next on the menu, a grueling 4.8km uphill course. Despite the rainy conditions, it was L39ion of Los Angeles’ turn to shine, with Sam Boardman taking the stage victory with a time of 9:39.20. Xander White (CS Velo) took second place and Tyler Stites finished third. Stites moved up to second on GC, 12 seconds behind Jonny Clarke (Wildlife Generation), with one step remaining.
Noah Granigan finished 14th in the time trial, which moved him back to third place, just one second behind Stites.
With the top three of the GC so close, the time bonuses available in the flat and fast 30 lap criterion would be crucial. Wildlife Generation seized the opportunity, successfully shielding Jonny Clarke’s lead by stopping dangerous moves and keeping a close eye on Tyler Stites, who slipped into a corner but still finished with the main group and snuggled up. would return to third overall at the end. of the day.
Thanks to the strong defensive work of Wildlife Generation, Jonny Clarke not only took the win, but teammate Noah Granigan moved up to second overall and grabbed the green sprint jersey along the way.
Bryan Gomez of Best Buddies narrowly took the stage victory by a bike throw ahead of Tyler Williams (L39ion of Los Angeles), overall winner of the 2021 edition of Joe Martin. Hugo Scala (Project Echelon) finished third.
“We had a pretty tough week. We came here to try and fight for the GC,” Gomez said after the race. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted, but we knew we had nothing to lose today, so we fueled up. GC didn’t happen, so we did it. We left behind. My whole team was trying and trying with the pistol, and it was pretty good. I had issues with my chain, but I timed my sprint pretty well and won thanks to my bike throw. It was pretty cool. It was fun.