miniSOL Tour Competition Stage Two: Where’d Keely Go?

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The miniSol Tour was thrown into sudden chaos at the start of Stage 2, as Stage 1 winner and present GC leader Logan Keely failed to appear at the start line to defend his yellow jersey.  #2 on GC, Griffin Schwab, was also AWOL.  Rumors that the pair had failed drug tests at the end of Stage 1 were not confirmed, but gendarmes were seen raiding their hotel rooms and let’s face it, that’s never a good sign.  All that was known for sure is that a Tour that seemed so firmly in Logan’s grasp just a week ago was suddenly up for grabs.

But when the dust settled Hagerty Cycling had once again showed the depth of its bench.  The team once again swept the podium, led by Ashton Edson in first place, Arielle Jean in second and her sister Abigail in third.  Ashton had an impressive ride, seizing the lead at the start and never letting it go.  He finished the stage in 0:21:44, a bit off from Stage 1’s winning time but still faster than most 13 year olds can go without risking some time in juvenile detention.  Peter Worden III and Noah Zalinski rounded things out for Hagerty, with P3 improving his time over Stage 1 by 11 minutes which is what happens when he remembers his inhaler.
The yellow jersey now passes to Arielle Jean, who has demonstrated remarkable consistency with two second place finishes in as many stages.   The Jean sisters also presently stand at the top of the Green Jersey points competition, Arielle in the lead by only 4 points.  Hunter Frank sits in third place on points, a full 8 points down; he has his work cut out for him if he hopes to wear green in Paris in two weeks.
Arielle is clearly on form, but the question on everyone’s lips is, is she on form too soon?  Lots can still happen in the remaining two stages, and she presently sits just 34 seconds over her nearest competitor on GC (who happens to be her sister Abigail — one can only imagine the discussion around the team breakfast table ever morning)..  Still as dedicated followers of the Tour know the GC competition isn’t about winning every stage it is about putting in consistent performances, and so far Arielle has been as regular in her race results as a metronome.  As long as she stays steady and the other contenders don’t put in breakout performances, the Tour may be hers.
The strong performance of the Jeans brought out another miniSol first: a near spectator incident.  A fan had set up camp along the course on Madeline’s with signs to cheer the Jean sisters on, reportedly waiting for three days for the peloton to pass by in the course of a few seconds.  Although fan accessibility has always been a hallmark of the Tour, this was the closes a fan had ever gotten to the miniSol — actually it was the first time there had ever been a fan at all — and the racers were understandably jittery about the proximity.  In truth the fan was quite polite and stood well off the trail deep in the woods, and it wasn’t like anyone threw any punches or anything, but still — something could have gotten caught in a spoke, had the fan been a mere15-20 feet closer.  The race organizers are presently discussing ways to improve racer and fan safety during the remaining stages.
On the team competition Hagerty still sits in first place with a comfortable margin of 17 minutes.  In second place sits the team formerly known as MBS22, and now known as MBS22stein following the late signing of Sophia “call me little, not mini” Belt.  Sophia’s defection unfortunately leaves Team Einstein Racing — Shorts without any junior squad at miniSol at all, causing Jason Lowetz to visibly weep.  Sophia immediately plunged into supporting her new team without a backward glance, working with teammate Maximus Jordan throughout the race; the pair finished dead even with one another after a powerful spring from both at the finish.
We also saw a number of new or almost-new racers try their hand at the course, all independents who are hoping to put in strong enough performances to attract the attention of a team: Isaac Hintz and Kora Voss came back for their second tries, and Grady Ellis, Noah Zalinski, and Sander Stuart all came out for the first time.  They all reported that they loved it and they’d be back, especially for ice cream night in two weeks.
The real question of the stage, when it was all said and done, was: “Where’s Norte?”  Like, seriously, where are they?  Orange was once again a color notably absent during stage 2 and word in the peloton is that they may be saving themselves for the Vuelta.  Even the indomitable Zack Gerlando sat this one out.  Whatever the reason, it again fell to the Kochis siblings to carry the water for Team Norte.  But even though not blessed with teammates, they still came to play — 8 year old Porter Kochis positively uncorked it, surging ahead to finish a solid 13 minutes ahead of his Stage 1 time, putting him at present in the lead in the Most Improved Rider contest.  And he did it on a single speed!  Sophie Kochis also put in a solid ride, finishing a minute faster than last week.
Also, no one hit a motorbike, and no one went for a run.
Full miniSOL results here!

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