It’s a WorldTour stop that requires a fair bit of gamesmanship, luck, and strong legs. Threatening clouds made it the smallest SOL turnout of the year, although the old adage of, “You can only beat who shows up” is never more true than in bad weather. The clouds and other attentions saw big names like Kennedy, Kickbush, Whittaker, Webb and more all firmly planted at home, but the WorldTour contenders were present and correct. In fact, six of the top ten riders on points this summer braved the chance of storm to start Thursday night and try to reinforce their standings overall.
Vanias was, again head and shoulders above the rest, riding away over the flurry of climbs in the opening mile, with a calm turn of the head to measure his progress. Cody Sovis was able to match initially, but riding a SSCX, was spun out and watch the inevitable scene of Vanias churning away into the forest ahead.
Over the Power Section, Kaitlyn Patterson joined Sovis, with the pair riding the rest of the way together. It was a similar situation behind, with Craig Fortuna rebounding from a very early sand pit pile-up to ride with Rob Goepfrich for most of the day, crossing the line together just as the light rain gave way to a rather enjoyable sunset.
The true keys to the Random Relay were still to come. Vanias’ first place finish meant he’d be paired with last place’s time, which came from a battling Dan Ellis. But it was the ominous sign of Lars Welton a few minutes earlier that meant Vanias wouldn’t pair for the win. In fact, it was Goepfrich and Fortuna with a time of 1:24:06, two minutes clear of Sovis and Welton in second.
Sovis’ third meant he took the same points as Vanias, with the pair maintaining the 20 point buffer into next week’s Vuelta Competition. It’ll be another very tough four weeks ahead of the World Championships to determine the WorldTour winner, with Vanias the overwhelming favorite to take the win and the rainbow jersey at the end of September. Kaitlyn Patterson has moved into third overall, with Rob Goepfrich and Ryan Kennedy rounding out the top five.
Stage One of the Vuelta Competition is a crusher right from the onsent, with double KOM points to kick things off. The race will also feature two new KOM and Sprint segments in an effort to shake up the race and open up the Power Section for more tactical riding. The Sprint segment will be GO, a long, fast segment that literally makes the GC a sprint win as well. The KOM segment will be right from the start, hitting the good ol’ Vasa CC Climb. That makes the Power Section a platform for attacks, rather than a drag race for points, and makes positioning on Madeleine’s a question mark as to how it’ll be tackled.
You can see the current WorldTour standings here.