2017 Vuelta Competition Stage One: A Soggy Start In “Spain”, #YOUTH World Championships


“The rain in Spain falls mostly on the plain”. That isn’t true. But the rain on around here falls mostly on the Vasa, and it offered up a wet and challenging start to four weeks of racing. 

It was a compact start group for the adults, with many shying away from the chance of rain. We’ve gotten away dry every week this year, but SOL’s luck was SOL for the opening stage of the Giro. The dedicated Grand Tour specialists were on hand, however, as well as some added firepower from Tom White, resplendent in his City Bike Shop stripes and eager to impress.

The stage followed an almost cut-and-paste formula. Like the frog dissection in an 8th grade Biology lab, it was predictable stage. Cody Sovis, trying his best to ruin his new white and red pajamas, controlled the opening miles, whittling the group to about six rider as they hit the Power Section. It was Ryan Kennedy driving the pace from Madeleine’s to the Power Section, and it was like the days of old, with Kennedy and Sovis never letting the pace dip below 19mph. That shelled a few hangers-on, ultimately setting up the last half of the race for a fight for red.

Disaster struck yet again for John O’Hearn. A dropped chain put him behind, and he received no help in chasing the lead group from Dan Ellis, who had teammate Sovis tucked onto Kennedy’s wheel. It was a true show of form from Kennedy on a night that needed some grit. As the heavens opened up, he only put on more pressure. His smooth, unspectacular style gives nothing away; he might be giving everything he has or cruising for an ice cream cone, the cadence is identical, the upper body only offering a mild bob with the timing of his pedal stroke.

Kennedy put 10 seconds into Sovis near the end, giving him a great shot at completing the Tour-Vuelta double, the same goal as his doppelganger, Chris Froome. O’Hearn rode incredibly well to come up just 36 seconds down, not out of the race by any means. Dan Ellis, kolo t.c.’s planned team leader, waved Sovis on halfway through the lap, but still sits just 1:15 down and will be a rider given some leash next week.

Emma Schwab not only leads the women’s GC by nine minutes, but paired with her dad Yensen for Hagerty’s Team Competition time. She’s up on teammate Valerie Hyrman and M22’s Heather Jordan who, to be fair, was actually just herding cats, er, kids.

Tour white jersey winner Rob Frank is at it again here at the Vuelta, up on Lars Welton and Jeff Galsterererererer. Jason Stuart is in the mix as well, and actually put down a very strong time solo so he could get the PIZZA setup for the kids.

Cody Sovis leads the Points classification over a flying Sam Holmes. Sovis won green at the Tour, and has admitted taking at the Vuelta on the same level for him as a podium. He’ll have everything to fight for next week with the sprinters go for the only double points night of the Vuelta.

It was double points right off the bat for the Mountains classification, the first of two KOM nights. Sam Holmes made the most of it, nabbing a full 20 ahead of John O’Hearn, Cody Sovis, and Ryan Kennedy. Yensen Schwab and Brad Pauly also scored, and with plenty of points left in the Vuelta, could easily slide up with a strong ride on Stage Three.

Next week, Stage Two leaves Bunker at 645, but PLEASE make a note that ALL SOLs in September start at 630 from the Split Rail Fence due to darkness. We’ll remind you constantly, don’t worry.

You can see the Vuelta standings here.

The full SOL weekly results are up here.

And now, the miniSOL and Junior SOL World Championships! 

Perhaps there could be no fitting way to end a season of tough, tiny racing than under theatening, dramatic skies and in a strong downpour. While there remains one, non-points miniSOL and SOL next week, this is the height of the season for the rugrats, and the efforts did not disappoint.

In the Junior race, RBS’ Hunter Frank went bar-to-bar with Carter Schmidt for every inch of the race. The powerhouses first collaborated, working together to open a big gap on the rest of the field before beginning a cat-and-mouse dance to the line. Neither fully trusted their sprint, and as the split rail came into sight and the scent of pizza began to fill the air, Frank blinked first. Carter followed, reacted, and galloped around at the very last to take his very first Speed of Light World Championship.

Griffin Schwab rolled in third on the day, but it was enough to take a commanding win in the year-long WorldTour points competition. He was a rock solid presence from the spring, putting in consistent rides all summer long.

Arielle Jean was the only girl to toe the line, but that didn’t stop her from putting in a strong ride. Even taking a brief wrong turn, she still cruised in amongst a large bunch and will spent the next few days celebrating her rainbow jersey.

On the miniSOL side, it was a show down between the pajama-clad Caden Stuart and the fiesty Jameson Schmidt. The Norte teammates established a lead, and then put the win down to a gentlemen’s sprint at the end, with Jameson just sliding past at the end for the rainbow jersey.

Although he was second on the night, Caden Stuart has to look back and smile on an incredible season. His consistent riding and flashes of panache, including a few stage wins, brought him the coveted season-long WorldTour points title. His bouncing style and trademark pajama pants were a fixture on the circuit, and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

We have to thank Peter Worden, Chad and Heather Jordan, the Stuart clan, the Debruyns, all of the volunteers and course marshals, Hagerty Cycling’s Blue U, Norte Youth Cycling, and everyone for supporting our kids this summer! There’s still one more for the kids who can make it next week, and we hope to see a few out there putting on one more show.

You can check out the miniSOL and Junior SOL season results and points below.

miniSOL is right here, yo. 

Junior SOL is over here, brah. 

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