And so a full season of indoor, fake racing wrapped up with what might have been the toughest stage of them all.
Before Sunday’s 70 kilometer finale, however, teams had to adopt the buddy system for a two-man time trial midweek. Originally imagined as a real-time team pursuit, the realities of getting thirty adults with job, kids, and spouses on the same page Monday through Friday was too daunting. Instead, we were treated to rolling updates all week long as each squad had a designated A, B, C, and D pairing throw down a time on the Champs-Elysees.
And those times were impressive. Originally, something around the thirty minute mark seemed respectable on the 16.7km course, but that quickly become an antiquated idea. Instead, under 28 minutes became de rigour and, for Guns’n’Roses A-Team of Kellen Caldwell and Jon Roobal, ducking under the 23 minute mark to 22:38 was the answer. That put them clear of Poison in second place, though Ryan DeFour and Dan Korienek raised the banner for Poison in the B category with a blistering 23:55, well ahead of Motörhead’s second-placed pairing of Ted Schneider and Wes Sovis.
To carry on a theme, second in the category above means first in the next one down, so Motörhead naturally won the C category with Collin Snyder and Ian Plamondon. Cody Sovis and Kent McNeil led the category for much of the week, Kent’s hopes of moving up a few spots on GC were dealt a blow when Motley Crue slotted Carl Copenhaver and Tom O’Hagan, the two riders ahead of McNeil on GC, ahead of him in second place.
Second in C means first in D, and Motley Crue put their trio of Alissa O’Hagan, Doug Millson, and Brad Hochstetler on the top step ahead of yet another strong ride from Motörhead’s Mark Strikwerda and Dan Madion. Indeed, Motörhead’s depth was impressive, and they also scored in D with Melissa Ryba and Tara Hochstetler. Only two teams, Motörhead and Guns’n’Roses, didn’t get last in a category, and Motörhead only finished third once. They were always the favorites for the Team Competition, but even with a stage to go, their dominance was well established.
Motorhead’s domination put them in an armchair position for the Team Competition for Stage Seven, and with their top riders well-ahead of any challengers. That was also the case for the bulk of the podium, with Tenelshof, Yankus, and Roobal with plenty of elbow room between them. That set up the stage for an interesting balance of goals, with the stage win prominent on the minds.
After a long neutral roll-out of 9km, the first casualties of the day were dropped over the Titan’s Grove KOM, but it was largely together as the race spilled back to Watopia proper. The real split came over the Hilly KOM, with a strong group consisting of the full podium plus Kellen Caldwell, Andy Weir, Brad Pauly, Ryan DeFour, and a handful of others finding some daylight. In the top ten, it was the first sign of trouble for Motorhead, with Wes Sovis losing ground. He would eventually have to drop out of the race due to gooch-related problems, a disappointing end to what is still a strong showing all winter long.
Guns’n’ Roses were organized and, with Roobol and Caldwell in with the leaders, in a great position to mix things up. Hitting the Volcano KOM with a 15” lead, Caldwell had the presence of mind to organize a bridge. With Sovis and Kennedy teeing it up, Drew Cummins got across the gap. Kennedy may have been able to keep pace, but stayed back to tow Sovis to the finish.
That elite group slowly pulled away with Spencer Nemecek and Lucas Van Druden, as well as DeFour, having their best rides of winter. Yankus went clear, and the chasers were eyeing the two final climbs to break things up. The last two ascents just weren’t steep enough to cause real trouble, though the Motorhead duo of Pauly and Weir did lose ground late.
Behind Yankus, Ryan DeFour put an exclamation point on the Tour to give Poison first, second, and third with Tenelshof, with Caldwell fourth. This roaring finish for Poison gave them the Team stage win while Motorhead was trying not to spill the team champagne in the final ride.
Caldwell’s fourth place was big, however, with GnR trying desperately to avoid getting last in the Team Competition. That came down to every spot on the roster, with Roobol and Cummins getting in the top ten behind Nemecek and Kent McNeil wrestling with the CRUE trio of Hochstetler, O’Hagan, and Copenhaver in what was the fourth group on the road. This group ended in a photo-finish between McNeil and Copenhaver (spoiler alert: even the photo could not separate those wheels so both received the same finish points). Even GnR’s Jon Kiessel was in on the act, finishing off his tour when plenty of other riders didn’t even start for fear of the long ride and adding valuable points to the team total. The result of all those efforts finds GNR over Motley Crue for Not Last in the team competition by a mere 5 point margin on the stage.
Alex Tenelshof showed off his prolific Zwift-racing chops and claims the Yellow Jersey for this tour, holding it wire to wire, from stage 1-7. He also grabbed the KOM title; unless we play the house-rule that no one wins TWO titles – then, Ryan Zamzow-Masters dons the Polka Dots. Keegan wins the Green Jersey which wrapped up in Stage 6 – though rumor has it he dropped a 1259 watt bomb at the end of the 70 km course.
Motorhead wins the Team competition, running away with a points total that gained momentum until the final stage. That makes 2 consecutive Grand Tour wins for Wes, who clearly has a future in Team recruiting and management if he cannot resolve his gooch-related issues.
The Inaugural Manfred Memorial Tour Results (your prize money is in the mail . . . but not really):
1st – Alex Tenelshof (POI)
2nd – Daniel Yankus (POI)
3rd – Jon Roobol (GNR)
4th – Brad Pauly (MH)
5th – Andy Weir (MH)
Keegan Korienek (MC)
King of the Mountains:
Alex Tenelshof (POI)
King of the Beers:
Jon Kiesell (GNR)
For the final standings, head here.
Thus ends the final act of the TC Zwift Winter Grand Tours (see…that title gets longer every series). We’ll still put on a handful of races this spring in the spirit of the One Day Spring Classics. But hopefully, we all get a lot more wind and Vitamin D really soon.
Thanks to all of you for playing along and participating. Thanks to Carl for the co-founding, auditing, idea-bouncing and reality checks. Thanks to Cody and the captains for all the help filtering ideas, discrepancies and generally keeping riders and data in line. Thanks to Kolo TC for the amazing megaphone that helped call us all together into this virtual community.
Be Well. Do Good. Ride On!