It wasn’t riveting racing, but it was effective. O’Hearn nabbed just a few seconds ahead of the Vuelta finale on the heels of a demonstrative show of strength from Jeff Owens.
There were some fresh faces on hand to watch the action, including Kalamazoo’s Joe Thomas and TC legend Jeff Koch. Susan Vigland was also back on the start line after spending ten days doing some pirating in the North Sea. We can only expect she sank a Spanish Armada and claimed their treasures, with a wild-eyed and cackling Todd Vigland at their own battleship’s helm. Arr, y’all.
Aside from two brief appearances by red jersey wearer Cody Sovis early on and then again late on the Power Section, Jeff Owens single-handedly strangled the third stage of the Vuelta. After nipping past Sovis just before the Power Section, Owens only looked back to check on the damage he was doing. A large group of nearly ten riders were in touch after a strong but hardly testing opening few miles, including first, second, third and fourth on GC.
Late in the Power Section, the red jersey put in a strong dig to try to snap the elastic, but after looking back and seeing everyone in touch, eased off. Owens was right back to the fore, with Sovis content to counting down the feet left of the race and waiting for O’Hearn’s attack.
A freshly dug gutter on the descent to the Boonenberg broke up the race, and proved that Garrett Jenema bounces. Owens and O’Hearn were clear, but Sovis led the rest of the pack into a new gutter dug in the fastest line (sorry, dudes). Sovis rode it out, but Jenema tried to hop out; he didn’t make it. Kent McNeil and Dan Ellis went full yard sale over the top of the #YOUTH at about 23mph, but somehow, everyone popped up okay. It left Owens, Macdermaid, Sovis and O’Hearn to contest the finish.
After dangling to gather full Go! Sprint points, Sovis was tacked onto the back of the lead group. O’Hearn’s move didn’t come until the last descent to the line, where he and Macdermaid tore clear. Owens waited for a struggling Sovis, who ended up ceding some time. His GC lead is now just 34 seconds, and with 10, 6, and 2 second time bonuses on the final stage, O’Hearn has everything to race for next week.
The biggest mover of the day was Wes Sovis, who moved up four spots from last week thanks to a strong ride and a few non-starters. He’s now just ahead of Best Old Rider favorite Rob Frank, who put in a strong effort last night to stick with a big chase group. Jeff Galstererer looks set to hold onto his second place in that category, and also pick up some valuable WorldTour points ahead of the World Championships, now just two weeks away.
Cody Sovis has the Points jersey all but wrapped up, taking full points all three stages so far. He can thank Dan Ellis for sweeping up big points last night as well, keeping the lead in kolo hands and well out of touch.
Sam Holmes missed Stage Three but still holds the lead in the Mountains classification, four points clear of both O’Hearn and Cody Sovis. With normal points still on offer next week, Holmes will probably need to be there to hold the jersey, especially with a flying Jeff Owens just 10 points back.
Next week, it’s the Vuelta Finale, which starts at 6:30pm from the Split Rail Fence. The following week, it’s the SOL World Championships, worth a total of 25 points for the WorldTour. With Sovis and O’Hearn tied going into the Vuelta, it’s going to be insanely close for the WorldTour title! It’s 25, 22,20,18 back, so any points gaps after the final Grand Tour are going to be critical. Sovis is looking to take his third straight WorldTour title (that’s what you get for always showing up) and O’Hearn would like to go full Sagan and take back-to-back World Champion titles.
The updated Vuelta Competition standings are right hurr.
ALL the Speed of Light results for 2017 are right hurr.