I always found that 26" wheels are fine on pavement with the right rims and tires (like 1.5" wide/80+ psi).
I don't know if it was the wind, all of the gear I had on the bike (~20lbs), my lack of leg strength, lack of carbon fibre frame, or the small frame and wheel size (or all of the above) but I was sucking hind tit yesterday on the ride home. Just totally dragging ass. Just felt like I was working twice as hard to go half as far. I'm going to test ride a Trek road bike this weekend to see if a wheel and frame increase will fix this or if I just need to do cycling classes 24/7.