Ty Schmidt needed only to stay in touch with Tom White and Ryan Kennedy, while luck ran out for the rest of the podium.
With the controversial DNS of second placed rider Nate St. Onge announced just hours before the start, the game plan was always clear for race leader Ty Schmidt; show up, stay up, and finish the circuit intact. With Tom White and Ryan Kennedy on the line, braving threatening skies and the low roll of thunder on the horizon, he had the allies to make the day relatively quiet for the GC men.
It was anything but for the other podium contenders, and right from the gun for third placed rider Cody Sovis. Just ten seconds from second, it should have been a day to make a move. Instead, he was dropped like an injured running back on a fantasy football team, settling in with teammate Jake Ellis and Ryan Bolin as his GC hopes rolled up the trail, with runner-up-thus-far Hal BeVier with the leaders. “I ate some questionable yogurt this morning and I think that was it. It happens too often in this sport; you say, ‘Look, I’m sure this yogurt is still good’, when it’s just not worth the risk,” he mused afterwards.
It was BeVier’s turn for disaster later, with a heavy, high-speed crash mid-way through the Power Section knocking him off the back of the lead group. Sovis stopped and was dropped from his group, then Rob Goepfrich and Lars Welton also slowed to check on BeVier, who was slow to remount. A trickle of riders rolled past before BeVier remounted, with Sovis joining him for a slow roll home. It should have been a simple bad day, but negligent brake pad care from Sovis made it even worse, crashing on a descent and putting some really crappy icing on a shit cake.
The pair lost over 8 minutes on the day, with Sovis one of the last riders through. Jake Ellis jumped up into second place overall, with BeVier third and Sovis now third, nearly over fifteen minutes behind race leader Ty Schmidt.
Ryan Kennedy swept up another stage win and rode himself into a comfortable lead in the sprint and second in the mountain classification, with Sovis losing ground in both. Schmidt will be his biggest rival for those classifications heading into the final stage, and with the GC now very safely wrapped up, he will have a bit of room to take some chances on those segments.
Einstein Racing took Kennedy’s time to eek out even more distance after slotting Rob Goepfrich home just a few seconds down on Lars Welton. ER now leads the team competition by 18 minutes, and should simply need two riders to finish next week to retain that title.
Finally, a nod to SOL die-hard and a great person, Jason Jones, who made his final appearance before moving to North Carolina. Jones is a great ambassador of Traverse City, of cycling, of Einstein Cycles, and of our Speed of Light community, and we will miss having him out there.
Just two SOLs remain in 2014, with the Vuelta finale next week and the World Championships capping off the season on September 18.
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