Alia Shafi (Fount Cycling) won the uphill stage 3 time trial at Joe Martin Stage Race on Saturday. The only rider to break the 11-minute mark, Shafi covered the 4.8km route in 10:58 beating runner-up Lauren Stephens (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) by four seconds and Laurel Quinones (Virginia’s Blue Ridge-Twenty24) by seven seconds.
“It was tough. I was just thinking of all the fast girls behind me and I didn’t want to slow down and have them catch me so I just put my head down,” Shafi said at the finish.
It was the first UCI win for Shafi, who is racing her first road season.
”It’s been tough. This is only my second big race. Racing with the best in the US is really inspiring, it’s been great. Learning a lot,” added Shafi who finished ninth overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic earlier this year
Overall leader Stephens increased her lead to 1:17 over her closest competitor Emily Ehrlich (Virginia’s Blue Ridge-Twenty24) ahead of the finale stage 4 in Fayetteville on Sunday. Emilie Fortin (Cynisca Cycling) dropped one spot to third in the general classification at 1:29 back.
“Alia Shafi, congratulations on your win. I was just behind by a few seconds and holding onto the lead,” Stephens said.
On a beautiful calm sunny day, 95 riders faced a twisty 4.8-kilometre course in the Devil’s Den State Park with an average grade of 5 per cent.
The 77th rider to start, Shafi had to wait until all the GC contenders were finished to celebrate her victory. The Seattle-based rider moved up to fifth overall, at 3:28 down.
Quinones, who finished third at the time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, is also racing her first full road season. “It went by a lot quicker than I thought it would. It was a pretty short TT. Nice and hot, it felt like I did a pretty good effort,” she said. I really like climbing so it was nice to have a more uphill TT today to give it a try, I’ve never really done something like that.”
The Joe Martin Stage Race concludes on Sunday with a criterium in Fayetteville, taking place on a technical 1.2-mile course with an uphill section leading to the start/finish line.
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