Riders show mettle in Joe Martin Stage Race

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda put riders in the breakaway each day of the Joe Martin Stage Race, an event that includes one of the hardest criteriums in the U.S.

Ricardo Van der Velde, Christiaan Kriek, Brad Huff, Morgan Schmitt, Luis Lemus, Nic Hamilton and Sean Mazich represented the team in Fayetteville, Ark.

In the 110-mile road race, the break moved early. Lemus joined three other riders and stayed away for 80 miles. Lemus dropped his three partners for the last 15 miles. He put in a terrific effort, getting caught with just 5k to go. Van der Velde placed fifth, and Kriek finished 13th.

The next day, at about mile 20 of the 112-mile road race, Schmitt jumped into an eight-man breakaway. Later on, Hamilton and 13 other riders bridged up to the break, giving Jelly Belly p/b Kenda two riders in the front group. Hamilton went on to finish ninth, and Schmitt 11th.

The 85-minute crit on the final day covered a 1-1/2 mile course with a .4-mile climb on every lap. Huff got into a four-man breakaway that kept the field at bay for an hour. They rode hard and were caught with only 100 meters to the finish.

Hamilton ended up seventh in the GC, and Schmitt was 19th.

“The boys showed a lot of heart in a very hard race. Great riding,” said team director Danny Van Haute.

Next up for Jelly Belly p/b Kenda is the Tour de Gila, May 1-5 in Silver City, N.M.

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