Things are beginning to take shape in the sands of Speed of Light after a gritty third stage.
While race leader Sam Holmes looked as imperious as ever, his GC rivals ceded yet more ground on the Vuelta’s third stage last night. After heavy rains doused the dust, deep ravines from the downpour left certain downhills a little more spicy than usual. It was a smaller crowd this week, as the demands of a long season and busy Labor Day Weekend take their annual toll on attendance, but those on the line were dedicated to a fast night.
With Holmes looking completely in control on the second stage, Cody Sovis vowed to attack whenever and wherever possible. Even the start was a bit quicker than usual, with everyone looking to hit the opening salvo of climbs near the front. All the familiars were in tow as the race hit Wood Chip, where four riders opened a brief gap; Sovis attacked on the same section as he has most of the year, chased first by Ryan Kennedy and then by the red jersey himself.
With nothing doing, Sovis eased up and a trio of riders regained contact, with kolo teammate Dan Ellis coming to the front as the lead group hit the Power Section. As is contractually obligated by management, kolo riders have consistently done the lion’s share of the work, with Ellis riding himself inside out to keep the pressure on. After another big pull from Sovis, Steve Andriese attacked near the end of the section, which whittled things down even futher.
Sovis put the nail in the proverbial coffin of John O’Hearn, who was dealing with some mechanical issues and rode a little easer than normal to avoid a hefty dental bill. Still, Sovis was silently pleading for other GC riders like Garrett Jenema to come out of their shell and take their turn attacking. Sovis kept to the fore to the Boonenberg, where another double points haul was on offer.
Holmes and Jenema tied, but surprisingly for second, with Dan Ellis behind the lead group taking the full 20 and moving to within 10 points of Holmes in the classification. Sovis, Kyle Macdermaid, Will Unger, and Max Meyer also picked up points to give those standings a bit more shape with just one stage to go.
The Boonenberg was a bridge too far for some, and it was Sovis, Holmes, Jenema, Kennedy, and Jeff Koch heading into Anita’s where, as is the weekly recipe, Sovis was dropped before galloping in hot pursuit on GO. He took the full points there, which he has been forced to do by necessity, to stay perfect in the Sprint category. That’s now mathematically wrapped up, with Kennedy second, 20 points down and only 10 points available next week.
In the finale, Jenema took his first breath of fresh air of this Vuelta with a strong move in the final mile, but Holmes and Kennedy were a match, with Kennedy coming around for the stage win. Holmes moved his lead out to a full 42 seconds over Sovis, whose attentions are more realistically turned to Garrett Jenema, who is now 22 seconds behind with a stage to go.
O’Hearn has slipped off the podium but still sits just under a minute ahead of Dan Ellis, with Andy Weir just out of the top five.
Holmes looks to have a virtual stranglehold on the red jersey and the polka dot jersey, with Sovis confirmed in green. There will be no women’s GC winner for yet another Vuelta, unfortunately, and no Best Old Rider, either. Hagerty’s strong ride from Kennedy and Jenema have moved them past kolo t.c. in the Team Competition, and if they have that pair on the line next week, should have that all but on the plate.
A reminder that next week, the Vuelta Finale and the World Championships both start at 6:15! We want to make sure everyone has plenty of light to get home. If either event are rained out, we will have one make-up date.
Will Unger will have your miniSOL and Junior SOL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP recap up soon!
All the Speed of Light results from 2018 are available here.
The Vuelta Competition standings are right here.