The current yellow jersey finally ceded a stage in 2015, to less a rider than last year’s winner. If the GC picture is looking fixed after three stages, it isn’t for a lack of trying. The 2015 SOL Tour has been one of the most hotly contested Grand Tours to date, with time gaps still relatively small compared to some of the gaping fjords of 2013 and early 2014. Race leader Alex Vanias took a more conservative approach on Stage Three, letting a move go and bridging across solo early to ride away with Kyle Macdermaid and Kennedy.
The start went according to plan for Einstein Racing, putting as many riders in front of the other podium contenders as possible and waiting for a move to go. While Vanias was initially blocked in and too far back in the lead group to respond, he used his prowess over Madeleine’s Trail to bridge up, splintering the chase behind.
Chris Kushman and Jason Lowetz nearly made the juncture, while Cody Sovis pulled a small chase group forward over the Power Section to try to bring in some reinforcements, including a flying Jason Whittaker. That Power Section decided the green jersey’s fate, with Ryan Kennedy holding a solid lead after posting the top time and pulling double points. Kyle Macdermaid sits second place, six points down, and will need to win the section and hope Kennedy doesn’t score more than fifth in the finale next week.
Sovis endured un jour sans, but the depth of team saw Jason Whittaker ride to Kushman and Lowetz, battle with the on-form Josh Zelinski and post his best time yet. Craig Fortuna rode in with a new best time as well. As eloquently stated by Whittaker, Fortuna is a rider just learning what he’s capable of. Next week’s two lap finale will be a big exam for Fortuna, where he’ll be needed to keep the pace for the squad.
It’s Chris Kushman who will get the team’s attention in the finale. With Kennedy secure in second, Kushman lost his third place overall and now is looking at 8 seconds between himself and Kyle Macdermaid. ER will be putting as many riders at his disposal as possible, and after a strong showing on Stage Three, the fight for the final podium spot should be a thriller.
Luke Tjsovold took the second best time on the Boonenberg to essentially lock up the polka dots for this Tour, with Kushman and Fortuna sweeping up the remainders and making sure the Mountains classification stays in the team. Einstein Racing hold green and polka dot, as well as a solid lead in the Team Competition.
The Best Old Rider Competition is sewn up for Rob Goepfrich and Hagerty Cycling, with a special mention to Susan Vigland for again coming in as the team’s second best time yet again.
Kaitlyn Patterson will win the women’s GC without question, and has helped to put Team OAM NOW into second place in the Team Competition. With one stage to go, she’s turning her attentions to moving up on the overall GC, where she sits eighth place overall. She needs to hold a gap of three minutes back to Rob G., no small task given the difficulty of the Queen Stage next week.