Riley Sheehan (Denver Disruptors) won the final men’s criterium stage of the Walmart Joe Martin Stage Race on Sunday, and snatched the overall victory away from leader Miguel Ángel López (Team Medellín-EPM).
Coming into stage 4 with a six-second deficit in the general classification, Sheehan was locked in a duel for the finish-line seconds with López to decide the outcome.
“It was an incredible fight. He had my number and I had his number all day. It came down to the bonus sprints and has still there,” said Riley about his fight with López.
“My team kicked ass today, helping me out, surfing the wheel, and leading me out. And yes, at the end, no matter what, it was going to be bonus seconds for the finish. They set me up and I crossed the finish line first and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Riley added.
Sheehan outsprinted Bryan Gomez (Miami Nights) and Simon Daniels (United Nations of Cycling) on the uphill to the finish line for the stage victory.
López flatted on the final lap and went into the pit, forcing the officials to review UCI rules. With the 10 bonus seconds going to Sheehan, López moved to second overall. Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) moved ahead of Kyle Murphy (L39ION of Los Angeles) to secure third overall.
“I’m glad I came into this race with a good team and to rock out. There were 19 seconds maximum up for grabs, and I knew I had to go for every single one of them, you know, and fight for millimetres if that if it came down to that,” the 22-year-old Sheehan said in Fayetteville Sunday after capturing the yellow leader’s jersey for good with the victory.
“Coming into the finish, L39ion came around, took charge. There was a Miami rider off the front. But you know, the guys were working the whole stage and going full gas. So they’re a bit tired, but they’re able to come on my wheel and protect my wheel for the finish. So I just had a straight lead out from L39ion. Yeah, all I had to do was just look down and pedal as hard as I could.”
How it unfolded
The attacks kept coming throughout the race on the technical course in Fayetteville driven particularly by the tight GC battle driving an intense competition for the bonus seconds. Team Medellín-EPM and Denver Disruptors mixed up at the front on the hunt for bonus seconds throughout the 60-lap criterium.
Second on GC into the stage, Sheehan won the three intermediate bonus time seconds reducing his deficit to López to one second before the final bunch sprint.
A few attacks peppered the one hour and 21 minute stage but nothing lasted more than two laps. In the early laps, Alex Hoehn (Above and Beyond Cancer p/b World) and Tanner Ward (First Internet Bank) worked together to get a small but were caught in after two laps. Fabio Duarte (Medellín-EPM) and Sam Boardman (L39ION of Los Angeles) tried to force a move but no other rider wanted to join them and so they were reeled back into the peloton.
Four riders managed to escape with seven laps to go but were not able to get more than a 10-second gap. Three laps later, Martinez broke away from the break to continue solo with Hoehn chasing. But it was all for nought as the Denver Disruptors lined up at the front of the peloton.
L39ION of Los Angeles controlled the pace at the front of the field with one lap to go followed by Denver Disruptors, who had Noah Granigan launch Sheehan to the line in the final bunch sprint.
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