To the sounds of ‘All Hail The Chief’, Ryan “Mr. President” Kennedy returned to SOL in style, while Sam Holmes confirmed he’s the strongest rider in the (almost literal) sand pit.
Kennedy’s returned saw a strong 30+ rider field take on the sandiest Vasa conditions of the season, and the overall reflected those conditions more than the effort of the race. After a strong start from incumbent runner-up Cody Sovis, Dan Ellis and Garrett Jenema enjoyed brief freedom off the front before being closed down by John O’Hearn. It was O’Hearn and Holmes working in tandem that reined in a relatively aggressive night, though all the while Kennedy was comfortably keeping tabs on everything.
With the flare and (lack of) success of a World Tour Frenchman, Cody Sovis put in a half dozen attacks on the second stage, only to be reeled in with relative ease by either O’Hearn or Holmes himself. Only one move enjoyed any real daylight, and when Sovis was pulled back riding onto the Power Section, the lead group was joined by Kyle Macdermaid, as well as the familiar Holmes/O’Hearn/Jenema/Sovis posse. Behind, Dan Ellis lost ground, paying more for his incredibly tough season more than his early effort. Ellis is one of the only riders to make every SOL and TNR, as well as over a dozen races, dating back to April.
In the end, Sovis’ silliest move was to go full-cyclocross over the downed tree on the course, eeking out 8 feet of a lead before the entire lead group saw Holmes breeze his way up the Boonenberg, taking 8 points behind Jenema’s 10 and now sitting with a big lead in the Mountains classification. Still, with two double-points stages left to go, nothing is even remotely settled for the climbers.
The double points were reserved for GO last night, and Sovis took the fastest time there out of necessity; dropped, as ever, on Anita’s, he scrambled back to the leaders and through to the front to try to stretch things out. Pocketing 20 last night and 10 last week, he sits at 30 points with no more double stages left for the sprinters, though O’Hearn and Holmes could still certainly challenge.
Kennedy’s stage win is a good show of strength from the former SOL master, though the expected return of Jeff Owens next week will add even more firepower to a front group hot to the touch already.
The women’s GC lost its leader in Lauri Brockmiller, with Susan Vigland now taking the reins ahead of teammate Bridgett Widrig. The pair should be able to see out the season and take the Grand Tour win, which would be the first Vuelta to see a women’s finisher in two years; we’re rooting for them to make it!
There will be no Best Old Rider winner, however, with both Rob Frank and Jeff Galstererer missing stage two.
Hagerty took a nice chunk out of kolo t.c.’s Team Classification last night on strong rides from Kennedy and Jenema. They now sit just under 90 seconds back, well within striking range with two more stages to go.
The up-to-date Vuelta standings are right here.
The season-long SOL results are right here.