Heidi Franz wasted no time in her return to racing at the Joe Martin Stage Race, America’s first UCI stage race in the last two years, sprinting to second at the end of stage 1. Franz was part of an elite group of five riders that decided the race’s first leaders jersey more than three minutes ahead of the main field. Skylar Schneider (L39ION of Los Angeles) took the victory ahead of Franz, who took the lead in the climber’s competition, while Veronica Ewers (Team Tibco – SVB) rounded out the podium.
“I’m happy with the stage result and especially with taking polka dots,” said Franz. “I knew it would be a gamble to sprint with Skylar but I have a decent kick in these kinds of stages and could challenge her for the win. She’s on incredible form right now so coming second to one of the best sprinters in the country is not a bad way to kick this race off.”
The race’s first selection was made halfway through the 94km stage when Team Tibco – SVB went to the front on Mount Gaylor and set a blistering pace.
“Sara [Poidevin] and I were in a good position and stayed near the front as they pushed it up the climb,” added Franz. “It was really difficult and as the group started to fall apart, I jumped for the QOM points. That’s when the smaller breakaway formed with Skylar, Clara Honsinger, Anet Barrera, and Veronica Ewers joining me over the top.”
Franz spent weeks leading up to the race training in Colorado instead of hitting the criterium circuit with her teammates. The move seems to have paid off and also served as a welcome break from the racing circuit.
“I went into this race with no expectations,” said Franz. “I’ve had an up and down year with some challenges the last couple months, both after the Giro and going into Steamboat gravel. I had no idea what kind of Heidi would show up here in Arkansas. The team has put no pressure on me which is really great. I’m just happy to be racing and following my instincts.”
Friday’s stage 2 sends the peloton to the hilltop finish of Mount Sequoyah where all of the jersey classifications hang in the balance. Follow the 108km journey live via the race’s Instagram Stories or with #JMSR21 on Twitter.
Stage 1 results
1 SCHNEIDER Skylar 2:51:22
2 FRANZ Heidi Rally Cycling Women ” *QOM Leader*
3 EWERS Veronica ”
4 HONSINGER Clara Team TIBCO – SVB 0:02
5 BARRERA Anet 0:03
6 COLES-LYSTER Maggie DNA Pro Cycling 3:13
7 LANGDON Rachel InstaFund La Prima 3:14
8 RAY Olivia Rally Cycling Women 3:16
9 RUNNELS Samantha ”
10 HOWDEN Florence ”
11 WHITE Emma Rally Cycling Women “
12 CLEVENGER Erica DNA Pro Cycling ”
13 RAUWERDA Kaitlyn 3:17
14 MRUGAL Allison ”
15 AGUILA Julyn Renee ”
16 POIDEVIN Sara Rally Cycling Women “
17 CREED Sommers 3:18
18 STEPHENS Lauren Team TIBCO – SVB ”
19 SHIELDS Nicole DNA Pro Cycling ”
20 WARD Maddy Team TIBCO – SVB 3:19