The toughest night of the season is in the dusty rear-view mirror. Jeff Owens takes his first stage of the Tour Competition, but Jenema is still safely ensconced in yellow with just one more race to go.
The Queen Stage is always selective, and this year’s event was tough enough to keep plenty of racers away. A big chunk of the GC standings didn’t take the start this week, and even those that did found it tough going. Maybe it’s the timing of the summer; maybe it was the heat. Either way, it was a select few going for the big chunks of time on offer over two full laps.
If the distance was a challenge for some, it wasn’t for the race’s top two riders. Owens and Jenema simply flew, splitting top points on the Power Section and the Boonenberg, with Max Meyer third on both of those segments for the night as well. Max wasn’t on the train and, while he ceded time to the leaders to finish fifth on the stage, he’s still more than five minutes clear of fourth place and his podium spot seems secure.
That fourth place is occupied by Cody Sovis, who called in some added horsepower this week with teammate Dan Ellis. Originally it was Sovis, Ellis, Jaden Drews, and Wes Sovis, but the talismanic younger twin simply didn’t have the legs. After the Power Section, Wes lost ground, and Drews played the ultimate teammate yet again to slide back and ride in with Wes. The move did allow Ellis to jump into fifth on GC, but kolo t.c. is still solid in their goal of getting four riders in the top ten.
Ryan Kennedy bowed after a lap, with the former Tour winner looking to come back stronger for the final stage next week. If you ain’t got the legs, you ain’t got the legs. Happens to everybody.
On the women’s side, Susan Vigland was comfortably under the 90-minute mark and looks set to take her Tour win if she can keep it upright next week. The youthful and exuberant Sami Maldanado went under 50 minutes for the first time…but didn’t realize SOL is two laps on the Queen Stage. Let’s say it was lost in translation.
Next week is the final stage, with double points on the Power Section, the last big tilt for the green jersey. Much like the yellow jersey, it may come down to Owens and Jenema deciding how to split the spoils of a dominant Tour this summer, although plenty of riders will hope to at least get on the board in the final outing.
After the Tour, we have the Team Time Trial. The third fastest rider from each trade team is your ranking, so it doesn’t matter how fast, say, Jenema goes; it’ll be the third rider who dictates his points haul…looking at you, Andriese!