Project Echelon Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race to award real-world jerseys
The women's start list includes world champion Chloe Dygert, while Zwift U.S. national champ Holden Comeau will take on a strong mens' field.
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Not wanting an institution of American domestic racing to fall by the wayside in 2020, Project Echelon will be hosting the Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race for both men and women, June 19-21, on Zwift.
The virtual Joe Martin Stage Race will award the overall winners of the GC, sprint, and KOM jerseys the opportunity to start the next “in-real-life” Joe Martin Stage Race in their respective jersey.
Race director Eric Hill has indicated that this marks the first time in e-sports cycling history that virtual racing has real-world impact.
Originally scheduled for April 2- 5, the Joe Martin Stage Race was canceled on March 14 out of concern for the health and well-being of race organizers, racers, and spectators.
The Joe Martin Stage Race has been on the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour (PRT) for 18 years and has been on the UCI men’s America Tour calendar for six years.
Stage 1 will see riders race against the clock in an individual time trial on the Bologna TT course, simulating the famous Devil’s Den TT.
Stage 2 is set to mimic the difficult Mount Sequoyah stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race, completing 3 circuits of the Sand to Sequoias course on Watopia.
Stage 3 will conclude with several laps of the Richmond UCI worlds course, a course which promoter Bruce Dunn hopes will simulate the Experience Fayetteville downtown criterium.
21 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams — including 10 international teams — are on the startlist, which includes the United States women’s national team. World champion Chloe Dygert (Team Twenty20) along with Sarah Gigante (Team Tibco-SVB), and Lauren Stephens (Team Tibco-SVB) are among the women’s favorites, while Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling), Zach Gregg (Project Echelon), Eder Frayer (L39ION), and US Zwift national champion Holden Comeau (Saris + The Pros Closet) get call-ups on the men’s side.
“It has been exciting to see field sizes and the caliber of competition improve with each event,” Hill said. “It is clear that teams are beginning to find value in and appreciate the level of competition we have been able to provide through this platform. I truly see this continuing to be a supplement to ‘in real life’ racing for the foreseeable future, and Project Echelon hopes to play an integral role in that opportunity.”
To honor the Black Lives Matter movement and the black lives that have recently been lost, racers will observe a minute of silence after the clock starts on stage 2. After that minute, the event is asking riders to observe a neutral one-kilometer roll out in honor of those who have lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project Echelon has recently hosted the Virtual Tour of the Redlands and the Virtual Tour of the Gila stage races when the events were canceled due to the effects of COVID-19.
Races will be live-streamed on the YouTube channel Zwift Community Live.
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