The last Speed of Light ahead of the Tour Competition is in the books, and the stage is set for a blistering four weeks in July. The action started thick and fast, with one of the largest fields of the year on hand to test the legs ahead of the biggest fake stage race of the summer. Cyclocross and Ladies Night saw a few new faces in the drops, and a solid showing of the area’s women on bikes.
Cody Sovis and Birthday Gal (it’s a long story) Craig Webb combined over the opening climbs to keep the pace hard over the Vasa CC Climb, where a big split finally occurred on the last of the series of ascents, and again as the lead group made the left turn onto Madeleine’s Trail. Freshly returned to Michigan and SOL, Ryan Kennedy made the juncture as Alex Vanias split the group, with Webb riding the Truee de Madeleine’s in the second fastest time ever. The trio pulled clear, with Sovis and McLains’ Eric Grassa caught in between the leaders and a larger group of chasers.
Grassa gave brave chase before a mechanical saw him cede the field on the Power Section. Sovis was not on his best day and gave up big time over the 2.9 miles of fast and flat, which saw the three leaders well gone and setting a new KOM time of 8:07 on the segment, with Vanias adding a rather illustrious jewel to his already heavy crown.
From the front, Webb made a move that saw him riding clear for a full two miles before Vanias churned his way back into touch, and eventually take a narrow win. Kennedy held for third, a solid show of fitness after a full three weeks away from both TNR and SOL. Sovis was caught and forced to the front of the second chase group, ultimately getting blasted out of the water by an on-form Chad Jordan and City Bike’s big talent, ‘fresh’ from Lumberjack 100, Josh Zelinski.
Jason Lowetz was the next cyclocross bike across the line 50 seconds down from Sovis, a great showing from a rider who, as some may recall, is still the original cyclocrosser in TC. Jon Throop, Jason Whittaker and Lars Welton all took double points with their finishes, with Throop making a smooth transition from fat tires to skinny ones and setting a PR in the process.
Kaitlyn Patterson was duking it out in that very group, and managed to take another first spot in the women’s field. She now sits 7th overall in the WorldTour, already looking like a sure bet to have the highest women’s position of all time by the year’s end. Susan Vigland and Laura Webb were next through, with Emma Schwab hanging tough in her sister Heidi’s absence.
Patterson caps off a group of rider that sit with a tally over 80 points, still within touch for the overall. Vanias cedes the WorldTour lead for the first time this year, with Sovis making the most of double points hauls at Singlespeed Night and Cyclocross Night to move 7 points clear. It’s a narrow margin with a long ways to go, including two Grand Tours and a points-heavy World Championship still remaining on the calendar. Vanias should be a full 20 points clear again by August if he repeats his Giro dominance. Kyle Macdermaid is sitting third place, while Rob Goepfrich and Jon Throop have gone level-pegging almost all spring to sit separated by 7 points after 7 SOLs.
The Tour Competition starts next Thursday, July 2. It’s as straightforward as it gets; no time bonuses and no double points on Stage One, just an opening salvo that should give the GC and each jersey competition some semblance ahead of KOM double points (a week earlier than usual), Sprint double points, and the infamous Queen Stage finale, with two laps of the course.
Times and points from CX/Ladies Night are listed below. You can see the complete WorldTour standings here.