Neilson Powless will not be back to defend the overall title at the Joe Martin Stage Race later this week. Instead, the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team will field a five-man roster of opportunists for the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event that starts Thursday.
Sport Director Jeff Louder said while Powless is competing in Europe this weekend, Axeon Hagens Berman will bring Geoffrey Curran, the reigning U.S. Under 23 national road and time trial champion, and Australian Michael Rice, winner of Sunday's final stage at the San Dimas Stage Race. Joining them are Americans Jonny Brown and Chad Young and Rui Oliveira of Portugal.
"Regretfully, we are not showing up with the defending champion," Louder said. "At the same time, we bring five strong guys who can affect the race. We are looking at this as an opportunity for the guys to come together and continue the run of success they had in San Dimas."
Competition in the 40th edition of the four-day UCI stage race in Arkansas begins with a 4.84-kilometer uphill individual time trial in Devil's Den State Park. Friday and Saturday are road races of 176.8 and and 176.0 kilometers, respectively. Sunday's last stage is an 85-minute criterium in Fayetteville.
Riders from Axeon Hagens Berman have won 10 races this year: four on the road, three on the track (all at the Portugese national championships) and three in mountain biking (all at the Specialized Cactus Cup).
Download the official race sheet: http://bit.ly/2ntk4fw
Download the individual time trial start times: http://bit.ly/2ocH45C
Header file photo of Neilson Powless at the 2016 Joe Martin Stage Race by Jim Anderson.