The final Grand Tour of 2016 proved to be a brilliant evening ahead of the World Championships.
Incumbent red jersey Jorden Wakeley spent the night off the gas, losing his lead and podium spot with an ambling ride on the Vasa. It was a night of differing ambitions, and some family bike riding. Jeff Owens and son Cam spent the night having, we assume, “The Talk” over the Power Section, well out of sight and saving their efforts for the two important points segments up for grabs. Cody Sovis was looking after brother Wes, and the pair were comfortably in the sizable chase group before Wes crashed on Madeleine’s Trail, leaving Cody to battle it out for the final podium spot on GC.
With Susan Vigland reigning as Queen of Spain, and Rob Goepfrich riding his with his teammate and last Best Old Rider competitor, it was really only a race for third, and what a ride it was. Kyle Macdermaid held a 16 second lead over Cody Sovis, but with Kent McNeil just 5 seconds further back. The trio found themselves bar-to-bar-to-bar over the Power Section, with an on-form Jon Zelinski sitting with a front row seat to the action.
With Sovis sure Brother Wes wasn’t coming back, he was the first to try something over the end of the Power Section, but never got daylight. Macdermaid’s move over the Wall Bypass saw McNeil distanced, with Sovis using the last climb before the Powerline to bridge back up. If either thought McNeil was done, they were wrong. Macdermaid powered up the Boonenberg and weathered a Sovis move over the top, only to find McNeil back from the dead and lurking on the wheel. The trio hit the bottom of Anita’s three-wide, with Macdermaid running the middle, McNeil on the left flank and Sovis bouncing up the right.
Sovis tore away over the top and onto the Sprint section, with McNeil getting on 100 yards later. It was Macdermaid’s turn to rise from the grave, with McNeil up and ready to help Sovis heading into the finale. The pair couldn’t hold off the flying KEEN rider, who has made a habit of coming back in the last kilometer of the ride. On the final two descents, Macdermaid took back huge chunks of time, and the three hit the line separated by just a second a piece.
The night belongs to the Owens, however, as they kept all the spoils for themselves. With Jeff in red, Cam in with the blue dots of the Mountains winner and the green jersey for points. He would also wear the white for the Combined category, if we kept as close of tabs on such things as the real Vuelta. Owens becomes the youngest classification winner twice over, and matches only Jorden Wakeley and Alex Vanias in winning two jerseys in a single Grand Tour.
Susan Vigland’s GC win gets her into the history books, and she’s done it in style. She becomes just the second women to score in any classification on every stage, equalling the efforts of Kaitlyn Patterson. She also matches Kaitlyn for being a scoring rider in each team classification for a whole Grand Tour.
KEEN take their first Team Competition win thanks to Jeff Owens and the battling Kyle Macdermaid, with Hagerty sliding into second behind the efforts of Cam and Vigland. Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing leaned heavily on Cody and Wes Sovis, and they come home third, even with Wes’ crash and a mechanical late on Stage Three. M22 comes in fourth, with Shannon Kochis becoming just the third woman to score as a team competition time in the past three years, along with Patterson and Vigland.
Now, it’s all eyes on next week’s World Championships. This year, World Champions will be recognized in Men’s, Women’s, Master’s 45+ and U-23. One last lap for 2016, with nothing but the highest honor is fake amateur bike racing on the line. 6.15 from Ec or 6.30 from Bunker. Be about it.
You can see the full SOL results here.
You can see the final Vuelta standings here.