The Big Dance starts Thursday. Here’s what you need to know.
Four weeks, four stages, five laps of the 2019 Speed of Light course to decide one of the biggest prizes in fake, very amateur mountain bike racing. It’s just like the real Tour, but designed for people with jobs, families, and other shit to do. Go for the yellow jersey (and hey, if you have it, give it back, we lost it), show off your Sagan-skills in the battle for green, fight for the Mountains jersey, or get your pals together to bring home the Team Competition. Shoot, just finishing all four stages is tough, especially with the infamous Queen Stage moved up to Stage Three!
Classifications: General Classification, Points Classification (Power Section), Mountain Classifications (Boonenberg), Women’s GC, Best Old Rider (50+), Team Classification (Top two finishers each week).
Stage: 20 to first, -1 through the top 20
Overall: 30 points, -1 through the top 30
Classification: 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 each stage. 10, -1 through the top ten overall
Team Classification: 5 points, -1 through the top five overall
Stage One. July 11. Sprint Stage. Double Points on the Boonenberg.
Stage Two. July 18. Mountain Stage. Double Points on the Power Section.
Stage Three. July 25. Queen Stage. Two laps!
Stage Four. August 1. Time Bonus. 10, 5, 2 seconds on the line.
Jeff Owens has been the rider of the year, winning almost every SOL he’s shown up to. After winning the Giro this May, he’s the heavy favorite to do the double. The most impressive rider of the WorldTour events in June, John O’Hearn, might be the most likely challenger after keeping pace on a singlespeed to cap off June’s events. Cody Sovis has finished second at SOL a half-dozen times and was second at the Giro, but he’s often focused on the green jersey by July.
On the women’s side, we haven’t had a rider finish a Grand Tour in nearly three years! It’s a great opportunity to commit and make it happen.
Sovis has won the Points classification in every Grand Tour for nearly two years, but as more riders look to scrape together points behind a flying Jeff Owens, he’ll have a lot more competition this year. Riders like O’Hearn, teammate Dan Ellis, Garrett Jenema, and a slew of others can all easily make a run at what some might call this Tour’s lowest hanging fruit.
O’Hearn, Owens, and World Champion Kyle Macdermaid are the lead trio hero, though both Jenema and Ellis have both posted some extremely fast times on the Boonenberg this spring. With the climb moving from the start to near the end, the effort comes with a lot more fatigue and much more strategic importance. Watch for a tactical ceasefire on Stage One, with riders behind on GC looking to make the most of the double points on offer for Stage Two.
After the TTT, Keen and M22 have to be the big favorites here, but it’s Hagerty that’s been able to post the most consistent, strong turnout since kolo t.c. won the Giro’s Team Classification. The combination of Jenema, Max Meyer, and Josh Zelinski should, over the course of four weeks, be tough to beat. Keen will need to find some support for Owens through Pulliam and Marc Brunette. O’Hearn will be counting on Sunset Scott and Jason Johnson to split duties. kolo t.c. will start Stage One without their talismanic Dan Ellis on the line, and they’ll need Wes Sovis, Andy Weir, or Jaden Drews to step up and fill his sizeable size nines.
Remember, you can miss a stage and still make a run at the Points and Mountains Classifications, as well as count for your team in the Team Classification on any given week!
The Queen Stage is the third night of 2019, a change to accommodate Cherry-Roubaix; you probably wouldn’t want to do two of the hardest laps of the season just 36 hours before the Roubaix.
All stages start at 6 pm from the Split Rail Fence. Be about it!