As Marcos chases his dream of becoming a professional cyclist, he identified Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas as having great potential for him to impress. The racing resumed on Thursday with a 2.5 mile uphill time trial, followed by a 112 mile road race on Friday, a 94 mile road race on Saturday and finally a 50 minute downtown Criterium on Sunday.

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Marcos was very pleased with his performance on the time trial as he nailed 380watts for 9:24 which is very good for his lightweight frame. He was surprised to find that his performance only put him at 28th/112 and 52 seconds down from the leader. This wasn’t what he expected, but not a bad result regardless. It was clear that he was racing against a very good field.

Knowing that the long stages were going to suit his abilities perfectly, he prepared well for Friday’s 112 mile stage and was ready to deliver. With rain following the peloton all day and temperatures lingering around 45F, racing was nothing short of miserable.

With a breakaway of 4 gaining upwards of 3 minutes on the field and still 60 miles to go, Marcos went on the attack. Surprisingly, no one followed, but instead the field allowed him to gain over 1 minute and straddle between the field and the breakaway for several miles.

Eventually a group of about 6 riders bridged up to Marcos – for his rescue we might add – and the group rolled along until they caught all but the race leader that had attacked the breakaway with over 40 miles to go. At this point Marcos found himself in great position as he had plenty of energy left in the tank and no responsibility to work in the break.

Minute details aside, within 5km of the finish fireworks started and Marcos found himself sprinting over and over to ensure he was on the correct side of the splits. Coming towards the last corner around 6th wheel, Marcos got gapped before he realized that he had the most speed left in the legs, coming just short of the sprint winner for 3rd place overall.┬áHe’d later learn that this placed him 4th in the General Classification.

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Extremely happy with the result, he knew that it would be hard to protect his general classification position the next day as strong teams would be attacking him as the solo Integrated rider. The prediction was correct – with foggy conditions, it was very easy for breakaways to get out of sight and a move of 4 took off early in the race. Later another 6 went up the road and Marcos found himself chasing to cut his losses.

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With the help of the current race leader and a couple unrepresented teams, they were able to bring back the group of 6, but the 4 winners would go on to bump Marcos to 8th overall despite finishing with the group for 16th in the stage:

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Sunday’s race was on an amazing 1.2 mile course in Downtown Fayetteville. More amazing was that Marcos got a call-up and a chance to change the way he raced criteriums for good.

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While Marcos’s breakaway efforts were futile and he was only allowed a short leash each time he tried to slip away, he felt reasonably comfortable in the field -

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At the finish, he maintained contact with the winner for the same time scoring and came out with an 11th place, moving up to 7th overall as the field completely blew up on the finishing hill they had to climb at the end of every lap:

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All in all, it was a great effort that we can all be proud of. With a single racer from Integrated facing bigger teams, we came out with a 3rd place on Stage 2 and 7th place overall! Good times were had and we expect more great things to come soon!