Not a ton of ladies, but a metric tonne of horsepower on the line for Ladies’ Night 2018.
It was somehow fitting that Ladies’ Night, like most Friday evenings at Grand Valley State, had few ladies at the party and a whole lot of dudes all talking ’bout Selena Gomez. However, that didn’t stop Susan Vigland from demonstratively stomping some authority on the evening with a fast time and a full 20 points. Fresh from her 240-mile ride this past weekend and a solid few days of riding since, Chelsey Schlict announced her intentions to crush the Tour Competition in second, while Sara Nestor smirked her way around the course for third place and taking her first WorldTour points ever.
Zero dudes wore dresses which, as Steve Andriese and Brian Beauchamp can attest, does get you double points, so, opportunity missed for plenty of riders looking to jump up the WorldTour. We shall all rue the day we left the miniskirt at home. Don’t we always?
It was a brutally fast night, with Cody Sovis setting an early tempo before Jason Johnson took over to manhandle the opening salvo of climbs. A group of seven split off that included all the favorites; John O’Hearn, Sam Holmes, Sovis, Jeff Owens, Johnson, Dan Ellis, Sunset Scott, and teenage heartthrob Garrett Jenema. (FUN FACT: The banana peel we put on his bumper Tuesday is still there; we’ll DEFINITELY keep you posted on that.)
Owens took the reins and did a Herculean effort to cover most of the Power Section in what was a PR for every rider in the group; Sovis went Mariano Rivera to close out the last few hundred meters, but that 8:11 time was all Jeff. Sovis tried to control things to the Boonenberg, but Owens and O’Hearn flew up the climb, a great sign of form for O’Hearn ahead of the Tour start next week.
Nearly everyone save Jenema regained contact over the top, and it was Sovis desperately trying to keep everyone in line before Anita’s. Owens, then O’Hearn, then Johnson and Holmes went round, with O’Hearn and Holmes making the most of their ‘never touch the front, ever’ policy to dispatch Sovis and Sunset. O’Hearn took the final turn on rails to win the night and move into first on the WorldTour in the process.
With the Tour starting July 5, O’Hearn and Holmes look to be the heavy favorites, although Jason Johnson proved himself a contender if he can put together four more weeks like he had last night With Owens literally trotting the globe, the ‘top shelf’ rider is gone, but that second level has nearly a dozen riders capable of winning a stage, a jersey, or even the whole Tour. It’s going to be wide open for July!
O’Hearn takes the driver’s seat on the WorldTour, with Sovis going from 2 points clear to 2 points back, and just one ahead of Holmes. It’s Dan Ellis in fourth, the last rider with a reasonable chance of getting back in the WorldTour race.
Last night also saw signs of life from Kent McNeil, back at SOL after a short hiatus, as well as the first points of the season from Jason Whittaker, Wes Sovis, and Ryan Miller Rides Fan Page.
You can see the full SOL results here.
The up-to-date WorldTour standings are here.
We’ll see you Saturday for the what is probably not the 25th Annual Pancake Ride, and back in the woods Thursday for Stage One of the 2018 Tour Competition!