Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 Second in Individual GC at UCI Joe Martin Stage Race

May 29, 2023

Team GC win, four stage podiums, and final stage win for VBR TWENTY24

ROANOKE, Virginia — May 29, 2023 /SPORTSWIRE WOMEN/ – Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 pro cycling team traveled to Fayetteville, AR for the four-day Joe Martin Stage Race May 18-21. The team earned podiums in every stage including the top step on the final day, along with the overall Team General Classification win.

The Joe Martin Stage Race began as the Fayetteville Spring Classic in 1978, where Joe Martin served as the race director until 1988. In 1989, the race was renamed in Joe’s honor after he lost his life to cancer. Since then, the Joe Martin Stage Race has grown into one of the top UCI, Pro Road Tour (PRT) and amateur stage races in the nation, and the amateur race is the oldest stage race in the USA. This year celebrates the 46th anniversary of the amateur races; 21st anniversary on the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour (PRT), and ninth year on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Americas Tour calendar.

According to race officials, the 2023 Joe Martin Stage Race welcomed the largest overall professional field and the largest women’s field in the event’s 46-year history. Over 750 athletes and teams from 27 countries and all 50 states attended.

“Although we have won Joe Martin as a team in past years, I had never been to the event,” said Nicola Cranmer, general manager, Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24. “I was really impressed with the Fayetteville courses and logistics. Bruce Dunn and his team have created something special with this race; the integration of the community has proved important in the event’s time-honored history. Races like this are critical for U.S.-based athletes and their pathway to performance.”

Stage One started and finished in Fayetteville with the Arkansas Tourism Devils’ Den Road Race—69.7 miles and 4,270 feet in elevation. The powerhouse VBR TWENTY24 team roster for Joe Martin included Olympic Gold Medalist and Omnium World Champion Jennifer Valente; Melisa Rollins fresh off a Europe block of racing with Team USA; winner of the 2023 Redlands Bicycle Classic Emily Ehrlich; sprinter extraordinaire Marlies Mejias; Newcomer Laurel Quinones; and 7x Pan-American Champion Sofia Arreola. The team worked in sync to ultimately deliver Mejias to a third place sprint finish and the team’s first podium of the 2023 Joe Martin Stage Race.

The Mount Sequoyah Road Race was on deck for Stage Two. The pro women’s course featured 69.2 miles and 4,339 feet of climbing with a 2km climb to a mountaintop finish. Emily Ehrlich battled her way to second place on the stage and the team’s second podium of the race.

The notorious Arkansas Tourism Devil’s Den Individual Time Trial on Stage Three took the pro women up the switchbacks for three miles from Devil’s Den State Park, with an average grade of five-percent. It was Laurel Quinones’ turn to step onto the podium for VBR TWENTY24, coming in third just ahead of teammate Emily Ehrlich in fourth.

“I had an incredible time at my first Joe Martin!” said Laurel Quinones. “The racing was super competitive and the course was really fun and dynamic. I felt like I learned a ton each day and it was great to come away with a podium in the time trial. It’s always fun to win the Team GC as well, and I can’t wait for next year!

For the final day, the Experience Fayetteville Downtown Criterium challenged the teams to a technical 1.2-mile course with an uphill section leading to the start/finish line. Picture-perfect team execution by VBR TWENTY24 positioned Mejias to launch her sprint and earn the stage win and her second podium of the race.

“My team performed perfectly in the criterium, it was just down to me to sprint as hard as I could at the finish,” said Marlies Mejias. “It’s always a challenge with such good sprinters in the field! I felt good during the race, especially with my four lap leadout and was able to outsprint Skylar on the finishing climb. We are really coming together as a team, it feels good to win the final stage for the team after they worked so hard.”

2023 Joe Martin Stage Race Final General Classification:

  • 1st – Lauren Stephens – UCI EF Tibco
  • 2nd – Emily Ehrlich – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24
  • 3rd – Emilie Fortin – UCI Cynisca Cycling
  • 4th – Alia Shafi – Fount Racing Guild
  • 5th – Laurel Quinones – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24

Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 Results at 2023 UCI Joe Martin Stage Race:

Stage 1 – Arkansas Tourism Devil’s Den Road Race (69.7 miles)

  • 1st – Skylar Schneider – L39ion of Los Angeles
  • 2nd – Sarah Van Dam – UCI DNA Pro Cycling
  • 3rd – Marlies Mejias – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24

Stage 2 – Mount Sequoyah Road Race (69.2 miles)

  • 1st – Lauren Stephens – UCI EF Tibco
  • 2nd – Emily Ehrlich – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24
  • 3rd – Emilie Fortin – UCI Cynisca Cycling

Stage 3 – Arkansas Tourism Devil’s Den Individual Time Trial (3 miles)

  • 1st – Alia Shafi – Fount Racing Guild
  • 2nd – Lauren Stephens – UCI EF Tibco
  • 3rd – Laurel Quinones – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24
  • 4th – Emily Ehrlich – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24

Stage 4 – Experience Fayetteville Downtown Criterium

  • 1st – Marlies Mejias Garcia – UCI Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24
  • 2nd – Skylar Schneider – L39ion of Los Angeles
  • 3rd – Sarah Van Dam – UCI DNA Pro Cycling

“Joe Martin was a very high energy and exciting race. Every minute was meaningful and impactful. In this race I learned how important it was to choose your cards and play them with all your ability. Nothing is predictable and that’s why it’s always exciting and there are always lessons to learn. Each race I understand my teammates better and what to expect from them, also i continue to learn how I can help them better. All these details are what makes teamwork bring us to win.” Commented Emily Ehrlich.

For complete race results and more information about the Joe Martin Stage Race, visit: https://www.joemartinstagerace.com/

Next up for Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 is Armed Forces Cycling Classic June 3-4 in Arlington, Virginia.

About Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24

When the team was formed in 2005, the goal was to create a pathway for athletes to the 2012 London Olympics. In 2009, the team’s name became TWENTY12, changing every four-year cycle, followed by TWENTY16, TWENTY20, and now TWENTY24, representing the Paris 2024 Olympics. The TWENTY24 program is responsible for developing many of the most successful American female cyclists to date. It has created opportunities for elite, junior development, and para-cycling athletes. TWENTY24 has established a consistent athlete talent pipeline for road and track cyclists and additionally provides opportunities for athletes who excel in the virtual world of Zwift eSports and the relatively new dynamic discipline of gravel racing. The team identifies and develops high-performance athletes and the next generation of competitive cyclists, and is committed to successfully aligning student-athletes with college scholarships through cycling and academics.

Key sponsors and partners of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 include Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Felt Bicycles, Zwift, Berglund Automotive, Kenda Tires and Velotec.



Media Contact: Nicola Cranmer

Email: teamtwenty24@gmail.com

Cell: +1 415 246 8791