With Ty Schmidt safely in red, it’s a battle for the other competitions as the final Grand Tour of the year comes to a close this evening.
Ryan Kennedy missed Stage One, but he hasn’t missed much since his debut on Stage Two, quickly moving into the lead in the Sprint competition and challenging for the Mountains classification as well. It was certainly good timing, too, and he may have saved the Vuelta for the team. Aside from his stage wins and jersey haul, the squad lost then-race leader Nate St. Onge before seeing Cody Sovis lose the sprint jersey and his podium position as well. Jake Ellis, too, has stepped up, now sitting second overall on the GC.
It will be down to Kennedy to defend his six point lead tonight, which he should be able to do by simply scoring on the Power Section. It’s the Mountains jersey that’s least likely to shift shoulders, with Ty Schmidt holding a 12 point lead in that competition. He shouldn’t be counted out for the sprint, however; with such a big lead on GC, he certainly has some room to gamble with if he has his sights set on picking up all three jerseys that he’s eligible for.
Hal BeVier will hope to be back to top form after a bad crash last week, though he’ll take the start line knowing he needs only to finish in order to wrap up the Best Old Rider jersey. It’ll be a point of pride, however, to be in the thick of things and perhaps extend his lead over fourth and fifth place.
Einstein Racing has cleaned up in the Team Competition, winning it in every Grand Tour since their inception in 2013. Their six straight wins are all but assured, providing Kennedy is at his usual place up front and he can get a teammate to hit the line alongside BeVier.
With so many competitions nearly wrapped up, lots of riders may already be casting an eye forward to next week’s World Championships. Certainly Keegan Myers, Sean Kickbush, Ryan Kennedy and Ty Schmidt must certainly be entertaining the thought of a big win on the 18th, perhaps kicking off a big weekend on the Vasa, with the Rock Road 50/50 slated for that Sunday.
Schmidt eschewed the traditional press conference this morning to spend time getting mentally prepared for the final test of the Vuelta. He’ll certainly have some ambition for taking a stage win to cap off his second Grand Tour of 2014, and the third of his career.