Winter Is Coming: Stages Six and Seven

This past weekend, the Winter Is Coming Stage race came to an exiting and dramatic conclusion. With many of the participants in action both Saturday and Sunday, the team time trial and final sprint stages on the Champs-Elysess, crowned the first champion of the season and unveiled some strong contenders heading into January.

Saturday, Stage Six

It’s always difficult to predict how a TTT will go on Zwift especially with a crew of riders who haven’t ridden together before. But the teams brought their A game to the A and B squads. It was so much fun to watch other teams suffer through the 38km course (remember, it was Cody who requested a long TTT…) and listen in to the race radio.

The Orange squads set the bar on Thursday night with 2 strong times. Their strategy maximized their recovery for Stage 7 – we’ll see if that plays out on Sunday.

Both Gray teams went early on Saturday posting times crazy close to the Orange teams. In fact, after almost 2 hours of time trialing by 11 guys each, Gray had just a 21 second advantage over Orange. That left everyone watching the Blue squads in Fanview and eavesdropping their race radio.

The B Blue squad had a guest appearance by Andy Weir stepping in for Luke and they worked well together. They cranked the best B squad time, giving their A squad a two minute cushion for finishing. . Turns out Jason, Carl, Al and Drew didn’t need that much cushion, though they didn’t quite match the other A squads.

The stage win puts Blue ahead of Gray going into the final stage by only 1 point. Orange can’t win mathematically now, but they could sure spoil someone’s day. With a minimal gap between the Gray and Orange TTT times, Burmeister retains a lock on Yellow for Paris. Four points separate Garrett and Drew for the KOM title. With two chances to score, teammates could play a role in swiping points from the other team’s Red Stripe hopeful.

There’s no real time standings during the Stage in Paris, so ride hard. The points will fall where they may.

It has all led here – Paris awaits.


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Sunday, Stage 7

The iconic Champs Elysees hosted the final stage of the first WIC Tour. Five laps of the circuit proved plenty long for some drama to develop and glory to be claimed. Burmeister arrived with a lock on the Yellow Jersey and Spencer was already clearing mantle space for the Sprint trophy. But the KOM competition was still up for grabs as Garrett rolled to the line in the Red Stripes with a 4 point lead over Drew. The top-5 podium was still undecided with Drew, Wes, Jason, Ohio Doug and Pauly all within striking distance of spots 3-5.

Race radio was buzzing for the neutral roll out with each team crafting a plan to protect, attack and dominate. At the flag drop, Wes attacked off the front, stringing the pack out immediately and attempting to put many riders to the sword on the first lap. The pressure stayed intense around the loop and onto the uphill drag to the Arc de Triomphe and the main group started to splinter. Near the back, the heat was too much for Drew as the big wattage gradually squeezed him and a handful of blue teammates out the exit door. David and Brad H were unwitting victims of their own team strategy and were clipped out the back as well.

Further splits in the front group settled out into grupettos that mirrored the bunching of the GC times making for great intragroup efforts to the end. It all became a bit of a blur trying piece together how the finish went down. Garrett escaped at some point and no one could follow, giving him the Stage win, KOM honors and an overall 2nd place in the Tour. Al, Burm, Brent, Jason and Wes were not far behind in a finish that would have been entertaining to spectate I’m sure… Wes’ effort today catapulted him over Drew to finish 3rd in the Tour.

Just a minute behind, Jim and Ryan D slipped across the line — Jim proving that he’s a major threat in the next tour and Ryan crushing segments as the Moneyball Stage Captain. Ryan smashed a KOM time that tied for the max points and was third in the sprint. That point haul contributed heavily to the team total for Stage7.

The next furball to finish was led by Andy Weir, in his tour debut (not counting his surprise cameo the day before in the TTT…) and included Luke, Chris, the Original Andy, Pauly, Ohio Doug, Spencer and Captain Black all within 2 seconds at the line. The next group saw Brad H get Cobra Kai-ed by Carl, Cody and Drew at the line as he coughed up two of 3 places to the Blue squad.

The rest of the field found David and Doug E Fresh in a two up sprint followed shortly by Brian Keissling, Dan Ellis, and newcomers Jay Ellis and KS McNeil. The last wheel across for Stage 7 was Colin, securing the Lanterne Rouge award and still stomping a sprint for serious points.

The Team competition did not end in a tie (much to the disappointment of the Race Directors…) With strong point hauls by Al, Jason and Ryan D, Blue edged out Orange for the stage 376-356. Gray seemed just off the back all around in this stage (except for Wes) and they were likely nerfed a little by missing Just Jaden in the live event (he rode Saturday, a couple hours after the TTT, while most of us were starting our first beer…). Thus, the final standings are Blue as the team winner followed by Gray then Orange. The Tour points kept the teams close through seven stages (and even the cumulative points were closer than we expected). This format is likely to stick around.

Tour Final:

1st: J Burm
2nd: Garrett
3rd: Wes
4th: Jason J
5th: Drew
Green: Spencer
KOM: Garrett
Black: Colin
Team: Blue

Final Spreadsheet results attached.

Thanks to Carl for Co-Directing as a planner, Zwift-nerd-advice giver, sounding board, voice of reason/rationality and often math auditor.

Thanks to everyone for participating. This Tour scaled up much quicker than we anticipated (thanks to Cody and Kolo’s Influencer status on the socials). We had 38 riders complete at least one stage of the Tour.

It has been truly enjoyable to observe the enthusiasm and camaraderie. Hopefully it provided everyone a reason to be on their trainer, a little race spice (since we missed so much this year) and therapy for staying out of your own head in strange times.

Happy Holidays.
Recover well. Eat lots of cookies (then update your Zwift weight).
The Next Season is coming.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hAPPGFxuKEoRfQ6Uu_1P9ZGDp7flo7UDd_zeI58ySIw/edit?usp=sharing

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