For the second Grand Tour in a row, the leader no-show’s for the final stage. No matter; the racers put on quite the show anyway.
Following the footsteps of Craig Webb at the Tour, race leader Jorden Wakeley bowed out prior to the final stage of the Grand Tour. The absence of the race leader meant Einstein Racing would race wide open, with Jason Lowetz sitting in the driver’s seat. It was agreed before the start that it would be Lowetz’s race to lose, and in the style of a true champion, he set out to win it instead.
Lowetz put in a daring attack on the descent following the Power Section. The group was together for the opening salvos, with Myers, Sean Kickbush, both Kushman brothers, Eli Brown and Ty Schmidt making the selection. The sand is still one of the most decisive factors on the course, and it took a bit of a bold move from Lowetz to split the group.
Behind, the Kushmans began to pop off the front, taking turns attacking with Myers countering them as they came. The accelerations and pauses kept Lowetz off the front, though the gap came down late as the chasers realized Lowetz would be a hard man to catch. Myers finally turned on the after burners to bring Lowetz into touch, but ran out of trail and out of steam in the final few hundred meters.
In the end, Lowetz made the much anticipated 30 second time bonus just icing on the cake and a footnote. His final margin of victory crept up to almost a minute and a half over Myers, whose Grand Tour debut has certainly raised eyebrows. Riding alone against Einstein Racing and Hagerty Cycling, Myers proved himself a powerhouse that will be a force to be reckoned with at the World Championships next week. Even more intriguing is where the prodigy might sign for the 2014 season.
Chris Kushman made it two Grand Tours and two podiums by taking third place overall and second on the stage. His move stuck late and he closed the gap to Myers overall, but not nearly enough. Myers took the 20 time bonus to Kushman’s 10 second prize, but it also gives Einstein another Grand Tour with two riders on the podium, plus Bennett Paul’s win at the Giro ahead of Scott Luca and Cody Sovis.
Eli Brown and Tour winner Ty Schmidt close out the top five, after Schmidt lost his fourth place with a rough Stage Three in the sand. He’ll be back to top form for the Iceman, using next week’s Worlds as a platform to build his fitness. Brown is certainly a contender next week, and his return next year at the Tour could shake up Schmidt’s plans at a title defense.
Sean Kickbush may be the dark horse next week, and his first SOL on a mountain bike is cause for encouragement. After riding almost all season on a fat bike, he is slowly drifting along the learning curve with ‘skinny’ tires. If he can make the elite selection as he did this week, he and Myers could play off each other to try a late breakaway.
Rob Goepfrich had the ride of his life, using the wheel of Tim Jenema to slide up into an 11th place on the stage just behind Cody Sovis and Jake Ellis. Ellis was first place ‘cross bike on the day, and he has proven he has the engine to fly on any course and in any conditions. Goepfrich also takes the Best Old Riders jersey after Pete Worden and Steve Andriese failed to materialize on the start line.
Wakeley’s absence meant his KOM and Green jersey efforts were squandered, with Jason Lowetz inheriting both the Sprinter’s jersey and Climber’s jersey by taking the wins on both the VASA Power Section and Anita’s Hill. It marks the first Grand Tour where a rider has taken all three jerseys they were eligible for, a massive achievement.
Worth noting, Hagerty Cycling seems to have found some depth heading into Worlds, with Brian Beauchamp, Jake Ellis and Brian Klym all in the top fifteen or top twenty on the day. Wes Sovis would have given Hagerty a shot five riders in the top fifteen, an unprecedented success, if he’d kept riding on the Power Section. He suspected a flat and slowed up to inspect it, costing him about a minute. Still, he has made huge strides on his cyclocross bike and will confirm his growth tomorrow at the Battle at the Burg.
The Most Courageous Rider award goes out to Big Tim Jenema, who suffered a massive crash at over 20 mph in the final miles of the stage, only to remount and roll it under his own power. He’s the epitome of the “strong man” term used in cycling.
For all the stage results, click here.
Final General Classification