Chaos ensued immediately. Despite a modest amount of careful thought, contingency prep and at least two beers, the plan for the start of the fondo followed the old military axiom – No plan survives first contact with the enemy. While it looked like the one minute delay would help get everyone together as the pen was mostly emptied, the WIC race field ran immediately into the soft backside of the Fondo field — scores of riders fitting the category of “Fondo Casual”. Mixing with these riders made everyone jittery and also cut communication lines of ingame text (your text or mine was only visible to about the 200 closest riders). By most accounts, Al, Wes and Garrett were caught somewhere in the back and having lost some communication laid down the hammer because that’s typically a good solution. Jumping in and out of voice channels, I heard what could best be described as the panic and confusion I’d expect in 911 call recordings. Eventually, somewhere around 5km in, most people figured the race was on.
And just like an inept Prussian field marshal deserves, while trying to sort out WTF was actually going on, the race director was summarily stampeded by his own forces and found himself uncomfortably out the back.
Riders hit the first sprint segment very early on, especially in light of the extended goat rope of a start. Spencer did not hesitate to light up the field in defense of the Green Jersey and he took both sprint prime times. The rest of the field was close behind, with WIC riders taking the top 4 spots (out of 1500 riders) on both sprints, (7 of the top 10 first sprint, 8 of the top 10 second sprint).
Burmeister and Al posted top 5 times overall up the forward KOM where groups came apart in a hurry. Jim ripped off the third best fKOM time shortly afterward. Almost all TC Zwift Racers posted PRs up the fKOM this race, a testament to the workload everyone put in.
In spite of the crowd of other riders, the chase at the front was on the entire race and Al hit the line first, followed closely by Burmeister and Jenema.
Many tales of woe played out on the final grueling volcano climb. But Garrett’s dominant 6:57 up the volcano catapulted him ahead of Drew in the KOM standings with a 4 point lead in the race for the red stripes….
Carl made some magic happen swapping to and from a MTB in the jungle. Despite prior evidence suggesting it’s a net zero proposition, his performance today buried a handful of riders in the jungle dirt and allowed him to catch a flagging Drew to provide timely domestique service. Carl and Drew eventually bridged up to the group containing Cody and Jason and they collectively delivered a great team performance to get Drew to the finish.
The Ride of the Day goes to Josh Kerr with a super strong race, storming his way to a top 5 finish in Stage 5.
Quote of the day: “I BROKE MY DONGLE” – Cody Sovis
Teammate of the day goes to Andy Schoelch. By all accounts, he laid to rest his GC aspirations despite being engaged in a close dogfight with Brad H, Chris, Cody and Jaden, to bury himself for sprint and KOM points after drawing the Wild Card Stage Captain for this stage.
Andy’s point total helped boost the Blue team to a decisive team victory in Stage 5. Blue came gunning for big points all day, as Jonah and Brian Kerr stomped to huge sprint grabs in the noon edition.
The Wild Card bonus also helped edge the Orange team ahead of Gray this stage. The Team totals are staying extremely tight with Blue and Gray now tied at 21 tour points, with Orange still within easy striking distance at 18.
GC stays fairly stable after this potentially disruptive stage. Burmeister has a substantial lead in yellow now. The rest of the top 5 are close, and race directors are likely to adjust Pauly’s time as he may have been the most consequential victim of the butterfly effect at the start.
Along with Al McWilliams, Jay Ellis, Josh Z and Brian Kiesling all made their TC Zwift Racing debut in the Fondo, posting great times. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing them the rest of the winter, despite them having to observe with horror the mangled start procedure in this stage.
Stage 6 is the Team Time Trial. Only Team points and GC time are on the line. Expect details on Tuesday. And start getting hyped now.
Get your updated results right here (and as always let us know if something doesn’t add up, #notanaccountant):