On a day that is historically a disaster, Sovis lucked out to hold pink in the face of a Jeff Owens and Jason Johnson-led onslaught.
If the Grand Tour’s penchant for taking its final stage as ambling, celebratory processional into that country’s capital, the trend has not yet caught on in Traverse City. The final stage of the 2018 Giro Competition was anything but forgiving, with a frenetic, record-humbling day in the woods.
With a two minute lead, maglia rosa Cody Sovis had time to play with against the two riders closest on GC, John O’Hearn and Sam Holmes. He needed more than half of it to survive the Giro finale. In the past few years, the last stage of this competition has haunted Sovis; a dropped chain that cost him a top ten, a year with two crashes that cost him over five minutes, and losing over two minutes to the stage winner in 2017 all promised a tough day.
And with the reintroduction of a flying Jeff Owens, paired with a show of strength from the M22 trio of Jason Johnson, Dave Sunset and O’Hearn, the wheels began to wobble early for the race leader. After the pink jersey led through the start, five riders were clear over the top of the Vasa CC Climb, with Sovis tellingly distanced. He battled back on, only to be gapped again over Wood Chip. His trusty teammate, Dan Ellis, helped close down the gap, using up the last of his reserves in the process. Owens was piling it on up front, bombing through the short section of singletrack with Johnson, Sunset, O’Hearn, Holmes, Josh Zelinski, Jeff Koch, Sovis and Ellis riding with a big gap to the next group on the road.
The pink jersey was simply latched on as Owens wound up the pace on the Power Section, putting down an 8:25 with all the other riders wither unwilling or unable to help. Before the Boonenberg, O’Hearn, Josh Zelinski and Sovis were gapped, with Owens putting in a stinging move halfway up the race’s most important climb. While Owens didn’t get free, it put the stake in the coffin for what became a chasing trio behind. O’Hearn was watching his second place on GC disappear through the trees, while the pink jersey was well and truly up for grabs.
Then, Sovis’ chain dropped at the base of Anita’s, with O’Hearn and Zelinski setting off to continue their pursuit of Owens, Johnson, Sunset and newly-minted second place GC rider Same Holmes as they hit the double-points segment of the night, GO.
A bobbled fix and a climb of Anita’s from a dead stop, Sovis failed to pick up any points on GO, but thanks to Owens, Johnson, and Sunset, neither did his closest rivals, ensuring he’d keep the maglia ciclamino. However, the GC lead was very much in doubt, especially with Holmes keeping his streak of amazing finishes in the front group.
On the line it was Owens with the stage win, his first of 2018, and setting a new SOL record in the process. In fact, the entire front group was faster than last week!
Sovis limped in over a minute back, but he did enough to hold the pink jersey, with Holmes leap-frogging O’Hearn for second place. Dan Ellis retains fourth on GC, with Yensen Schwab in for fifth.
Jeff Galsterer takes home the Best Old Rider competition and picked up some important WorldTour points as well, while Cody Sovis holds onto the Points classification. John O’Hearn comfortably wins the Mountains classification by 8 points over a consistent Dan Ellis. Ellis and Sovis combined to win the Team Competition for kolo t.c./3TQM ahead of Hagerty and ERSB.
You can see the final Giro standings here.
The full season-long SOL times are always available here.
With the start of June, we roll into the Classics schedule, with Fat Bike Night kicking off the action on June 7.
June 7 Fat Bike Night (4″ or wider)
June 14 Cyclocross Night (Drop Bars AND 45m or narrower)
June 21 Singlespeed Night (One gear, zip-ties okay)
June 28 Ladies’ Night (Ladies get their own points for the WorldTour)
The Tour Competition starts on July 5, with four stages and the biggest prize of the year, the yellow jersey.
And yes, there will be a Queen Stage on July 26.
We’ll have all the WorldTour standings tabulated ahead of next week.