Photo: Casey B. Gibson
HERNANDEZ SPRINTS TO FOURTH AT JOE MARTIN
April 2nd, 2017
Michael Hernandez sprinted to fourth place in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday. Stage three of the Joe Martin Stage Race ended in a bunch sprint following a hectic final hour of racing. Hernandez credited his Aevolo teammates with propelling him to his first UCI top-five.
“The team really rode extremely well today,” said Hernandez. “I could not have done this without them. During the final 40 kilometers, they were always around me, always asking me what I needed, asking Jack what he needed. They were ready to put it all on the line.”
Hernandez finished off their work in a hectic sprint.
“Rally got swarmed once we were really hitting it because they were on the front all day,” noted Hernandez. “Holowesko took over at two kilometers. People were fighting to get on their train. Jokin [Etxabe] guided me to their train, which was exactly where I needed to be, and then I surfed wheels from there.”
Axeon Hagens Berman took over from Holowesko-Citadel Racing on the front before Cylance opened the sprint.
“From there it was everyone for themselves,” said Hernandez. “I got a bit boxed in going into the finish. If I had gotten out 30 meters early, maybe I could have found a podium spot, but I’ll take fourth. It’s my first UCI top five. I’m pretty happy with that.”
Aevolo Cycling handily managed dual objectives on Saturday as they targeted a stage result for Hernandez and defended Jack Burke’s U23 classification lead. The Canadian pulled on the white U23 jersey after the prologue and has clung tightly to it on subsequent stages.
On Saturday, Burke finished on bunch time, in 60th place, on stage three. He’ll start the fourth and final stage in ninth overall, 10 seconds ahead of Stephen Bassett (Silber) in the U23 competition.
“They kept us both out of trouble,” noted Hernandez. “Jack floated behind me, and I was behind the team. The tactic allowed the team to protect us both without expending too much energy or splitting the team in half.”
Joe Martin Stage Race ends on Sunday with an 85-minute criterium in Fayetteville.
“We have a lot of guys that could go well on this finish,” said Hernandez. “It’s a steep kick to the line. With how we’ve been riding, it’s going to come down to a select group toward the end, especially since it’s meant to rain. If we can keep it upright and position as well as we have been, I think we can get in another top ten.”