Team Globalbike achieved its most significant victory to date recently in the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AR. Bobby Sweeting delivered an amazing performance throughout the race, never finishing less than 5th in any of the 4 stages. The victory didn’t come easy though as the team had to fight hard to take over the leaders jersey and protect it to the end.
Stage 1: 2.5 mile uphill Time Trial – Sweeting took 5th on the stage 21sec behind the leader.
Stage 2: 110mile Road Race – a long and windy stage featuring a 9mile climb up Mt. Gaylor. Globalbike mostly hid in the group out of the wind and let the team of the race leader assume responsibility on the front. A breakaway formed that got a maximum advantage of 6min on the field before Globalbike sent Josh Whitmore and Ben Miller to the front to help chase. Josh and Ben were able to bring the gap down to 4min at the start of the Mt Gaylor climb. Boyd Johnson then took over the pace making on the climb with Ben Miller also contributing. The breakaway was caught near the top of the climb, with Bobby Sweeting and 2 others escaping over the top with 25miles to go. Sweeting drove the break hard and took the win on the final hill to the finish line. With a 10sec time bonus for the win, Sweeting assumed the overall lead by 13sec.
Stage 3: 96mile Road Race. Shortly into the race, Matt Davis of another team escaped from the peleton on a solo breakaway. At that point, Team Globalbike didn’t react much as there were still many miles and several climbs before the finish. The chances of a single rider lasting to the end was minimal. Hat’s off to Matt Davis however as his lead continued to grow up to the 5min mark before Globalbike took action. At first, Globalbike’s newest team member Graham Foster was joined by Josh Whitmore at the front to up the pace and start bringing down the gap. Over the next 20 miles the gap slowly came down to the 3:30 mark. Doing the calculations, it became apparent that the gap was not coming down quick enough. If Matt Davis finished ahead of the group by 50sec, he would be the new GC leader. Globalbike decided to put the entire team on the front to chase. What happened next nothing short of text book riding by the team who set a smooth, fast paceline tempo and started to eat into the advantage by Davis. At times, it was unsure if the catch would be made, but eventually the gap was welded shut with 5miles left to go. Sweeting, who had the advantage of sitting protected at the back of the team train for the whole race was able to take 2nd in the big group sprint to the finish, extending his overall GC lead to 19sec with the time bonus.
Stage 4: Criterium. I have to say this was one of the hardest criteriums I have ever done. With 12 turns and significant elevation change on each lap, only the strongest of the race would be able to contest this race. Sweeting managed to stay comfortably in the front group as rider after rider were shelled off the back as the pace proved too much. With a 3rd place finish on the stage, Sweeting increased his overall GC lead to 21sec, securing the overall victory.
Overall, the team was exhausted, but proud of their performance and amazed at the strength of team leader Bobby Sweeting.