The first Speed of Light Giro Competition has a winner, and the final stage was a thrilling closing chapter.
The stage was set for a dramatic showdown on the final day of racing. Bennett Paul entered with a healthy lead and growing confidence that he could hold onto the first ever maglia rosa in the Competition. He skipped the taxing Tuesday Night Worlds in part with Thursday in mind, and even took the group ride to the start line as a badge of honor, riding on the front in true patron fashion.
Scott Luca was not giving up, however, and the two teammates knew from the start that the overall victory would stay safely in the team. In fact, that may have allowed them to battle all the more fiercely, with third place Cody Sovis over four minutes away from breaking up the Einstein Racing 1-2.
Paul had a gap from the gun, tackling the open climbs well within his ability and watching casually as Ryan Kennedy, Ty Schmidt and Craig Webb went up the trail to duke it out for the stage. Luca floated onto Paul’s wheel, while the trio of Pete Skellenger, Jason Whittaker and the final man on GC, Cody Sovis, rode into the group. The entire podium was riding together just a few miles into the 12 mile loop, with the overall heavily on the mind. No one wanted to pull the other podium contenders around, with the group content to roll along until finally Skellenger went to the front of affairs. The pint-sized PriorityHealth rider stretched out the group until Paul put in a dig. Sovis let Paul gain five to ten seconds before leaping across to join him. Luca got himself rolling along and latched onto the back of the group.
Paul tried it again with the same results as the crew turned onto Four Corners sections, when it was time for Sovis to put in a dig. Luca pulled this one back, keeping an eye out on his second place position. Luca countered shortly after, tackling the wood chip hill from the front. Paul had a brief scare as he found himself gapped behind Sovis, but covered the move deftly on the downhill.
Sovis plowed the sand section, causing Whittaker and himself to lose contact with the podium riders. A steady effort brought them back, with Luca and Paul basically track-standing in the trail. Neither talked or acknowledged the other, both playing poker and lulling the other to inattention. Sovis and Whittaker rolled past heading toward Anita’s Hill, causing no reaction from the two titans.
Whittaker casually pipped Sovis on the line for fourth place, with Kennedy taking another first place in 39:48. Craig Webb and Ty Schmidt were just a few seconds back for your top three.
Bennett Paul rolled in fifth place, jersey unzipped and his right arm in the air as a victory salute. Luca had had enough, conceding the stage and the overall with a classy congratulations and handshake after crossing the line 8th behind Jason Lowetz in 7th.
Here are the final GC standings:
1. Bennett Paul 2:52:44
2. Scott Luca 2:55:02
3. Cody Sovis 2:57:56
The Einstein Cycles Tour Competion will start in July. Get your blood bags ready!