Double Victories for The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team with Rivera and Alzate at Joe Martin Stage Race
Carlos Alzate sprinted clear of the bunch on the third stage of the 2016 Joe Martin Stage Race to take a resounding victory. The The Columbian on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team posted up triumphantly as he crossed the line, to be followed by teammate and lead out man John Murphy in second.
The one-two punch in the men’s race came just minutes after Coryn Rivera crossed the line in first place in the women’s race. Rivera was also flanked by her teammate Linda Villumsen, who protected her General Classification lead into Sunday’s final stage. On the overall standings, Villumsen sits 10 seconds clear of Rivera, who has moved up to second place.
Saturday’s road race took place over multiple circuits of the classic Hogeye loop outside of Prairie Grove, AR. The 23-mile course featured undulating terrain, ensuring the riders had to stay on their toes for the entire day. With high spirits after Rivera’s stage two win, the women’s squad started the day with the twofold goals of protecting the GC lead of Villumsen, and taking another stage victory.
As the 64-mile race progressed into the final lap, breakaways were kept in check by Iris Slappendel of the UnitedHealthcare Team. Sheltering in the pack, both Villumsen and Rivera reserved their energy for the final sprint, as Annie Ewart pulled the compact lead group into the home straight. From there it was all down to the sprint, and Rivera came from behind to take a narrow victory over second-place Sam Schneider.
With just one stage left, Sunday’s criterium, the team will race again for the stage victory and overall win.
The men on the UnitedHealthcare Team came into Saturday’s road race fired up after a narrow loss on the previous stage. The 110 mile race was made up of four loops on the Hogeye circuit before returning to Prairie Grove for the finale. Although early enthusiasm in the pack tried to force a breakaway, The UnitedHealthcare Team did a lot of work on the front to ensure the race came down to a sprint finish. Entering the home straight as a group of 100 caused some chaotic scenes, but the experienced duo of Brad White and Christopher Jones were put at the head of the Blue Train. Used to such frantic finishes from their time spent racing criteriums, White and Jones performed the perfect leadout. Murphy took over the charge for the final pull to the line, bringing Alzate far enough clear of the pack that Murphy held on for second place.
The men will aim to use the same criterium experience that netted them the victory today to also take the final stage. Sunday’s short downtown loop is a crowd favorite, and will test the legs of the riders with multiple climbs of the short but punchy Dickson Street.