It’s a phrase we treasure, mostly because it’s a Rod Stewart song: “Tonight’s the night”.
It’s double points for drop bars and skinny tires on the SOL circuit, and all will be rewarded with beer, brats and more post-ride. The 2016 WorldTour in June has just two more dates, but they’re some of the most entertaining.
Much like racers calling the Tour organizers ‘murderers’ for including the Tourmalet, it was just two years ago that a wild-eyed and shaking Rob Goepfrich finished on his CX bike, only to call it ‘absolutely stupid’. It’s a brave and dwindling few who chance life, limb and victory on a ‘cross bike at SOL, with Eric Pollard taking the first edition and Cody Sovis taking the last few.
John O’Hearn has to be in with a big chance tonight, as he took Cody to the wire every week at the Giro before switching to his mountain bike as the sands grew deeper. Indeed, the sand has been softer than scheduled for much of the year and tonight should be more selective in sandpits than on climbs or in singletrack.
Eyes will be on the future as well, with miniSOL taking off for its second run of 2016. Ryan Miller was the bigger winner last week, but there are more than a few capable riders on the line, including Gabe Howard, an on-form Ethan McKenna, and the possible debut of Reese Cummins on his cyclocross bike for the first time in competition.
This is a big night for the WorldTour standings, with riders looking to move up ahead of Ladies’ Night next week and the Tour Competition, which starts the week following. The Tour will be worth 50 points on GC, and 15 for each classification, a bit of a bump up from the Giro. Last year, nearly 70 riders took the line on Stage One, with Alex Vanias finishing off an historic Giro-Tour double, the double Alberto Contador couldn’t pocket, albeit on a slightly larger scale.
After the ride, KEEN Technical Solutions will have the grill already hot and the food ready, with beer, burgers, brats and finger foods. Dress is Snappy Casual, and +1s are totally fine. Watch for some of the KEEN guys to be aboard some special Bearclaw Bicycle Co. Balthazars for the night, putting the new B+ Little Chet and 29+ Big Chet wheelsets through the paces.