Fresh off a stage win to cap off the Vuelta Competiton, Kyle Macdermaid enters as the heavy favorite for the next rainbow jersey.
Kyle Macdermaid survived being gapped twice on the Vuelta’s final stage, only to storm past the lead quartet and take a win that confirmed his return to fitness after a dismal spring. After dealing with months of rehab with wrist issues, and very little time riding outside even in the summer months. That may have slowed his roll, but it’s meant that he’s hit September more fresh than anyone, and it showed last Thursday.
Jeff Owens missed a few SOLs over the past month but showed that he still has plenty of horsepower with a demonstrative showing on the Power Section last week, breezing past the ‘cross-bike mounted Cody Sovis to put down a strong time over the 3 mile segment. He’ll be looking to improve on his second place last week and take his first ever World Championship.
Of course, Sam Holmes as proved impossible to drop for nearly two months, and he didn’t lose a second to a GC rider on any of the final three stages of the Vuelta, and there were plenty of attacks to cover. He’s worked well with John O’Hearn who, to be sure, is a contender himself. With Macdermaid’s blueprint limited to following wheels and sprinting for the win, there may be a gentlemen’s handshake between Holmes and O’Hearn; if they don’t chase each other, that may leave Macdermaid relying on others to pull him back into contention, something that is unlikely to happen.
On the women’s side, we won’t see Susan Vigland, Bridgett Widrig, or Lauri Brockmiller, so it’ll be up to Emma Schwab to show up and win. Sara Nestor could challenge as she slowly gets more and more comfortable off-road, and it isn’t impossible that we see Sage Day or Gwen Urbain from Norte give the title a run, either.
Unlike last year, the World Championship isn’t expected to shake up the final WorldTour rankings. Cody Sovis will retain the title he’s always won because 1) he always shows up 2) other people don’t. Attendance is the recipe that’s worked for him since he made a deal with his 8th-grade algebra teacher that he’d be allowed to pass if he didn’t miss a class. Holmes should easily hold second place Thursday, with John O’Hearn all the most consistent riders. Ellis joins Sovis as the only two riders not to miss a SOL in 2018, with Ellis spending much of his time working to help Sovis to two Grand Tour wins. Garrett Jenema sits fifth after a strong Vuelta, putting him over the 75 point mark.
The final Speed of Light of 2018 leaves the Split Rail Fence at 6:15 pm. It’ll be worth 25 points, -1 through the top 25, so there’s plenty of room for other riders to make a big jump up. The Norte Varsity team is even working to adjust their practice in order to attend, which could see riders like Will Unger, Will Haalpala, and Drew Cummins move well up the standings after finishing the Vuelta last week.
You can see the full WorldTour standings with just a single race to go right here.