It was a busy world of virtual bike racing. With the Team Time Trial running throughout the week and the final two stages coming over the weekend, there was little rest from fake racing. That can really get tiring.
The Stage Four TTT
Few events are as eagerly anticipated or fervently feared as the team time trial. With each of the tour teams slipping into an A and B squad, each four of five-person squad was looking to be somewhere between 30 and 33 minutes on the London 8 course. The map, if you aren’t familiar with it, is pan flat for nearly three-quarters of the 12.62 route, but much that quarter that isn’t flat includes a 7 to 8 minute trip up Box Hill.
After strong rides earlier in the week from the Orange B squad, it was clear that a 33 minute time would be needed simply to stay in contention for the second squads of the week. Orange B ended up being just 3 seconds clear of Red B and 5 seconds behind Green B, while Blue had a tough go of the TTT with a time of 33:51 for their Bs and 31:05 for their As.
However, the real fight would be between Red and Green. Red has been the strongest squad of the Tour by every measure, but found themselves in a dog fight this week. Green gambled and rode with just 4 riders on their A team and hit the line at 29:58, immediately hitting refresh and attempting basic mathematics to determine what their B team would need to put down that evening.
As hard as they rode and as dedicated as Green B was, it wasn’t quite enough. With Tom O’Hagan driving across town to ride the stage on Brad Hochstetler’s bike (and reportedly interrupting Tara Hochstetler’s book club), they came up just 16 seconds short of upsetting a dominant Red Team.
After it all shook out, Red took another full haul of 10 points, Green 8, Orange 6, and Blue 4 points.
DIRTy Mitten Madison
In a Zwiftied version of the track event, the Madison was all about Team points. No GC time, no sprint or KOM points, just a chance to shake up the squad standings. A simple premise; see how many laps each rider from each team could rack up in 40 minutes. Stay on the lead lap, good. Keep your whole team on the lead lap….even better.
The Dolphin circuit includes a short cobbled climb each lap which the lead group would end up tackling a full 16 times. However, that small bump in the road took its toll, knocking out riders in ones and twos as early as the second lap.
It was somewhat civil until the 8th lap when Team Red’s impatience threw the peloton onto the cobbled climb like someone trying to break up a back of ice on a cement curb outside Citgo. The field exploded and took the descent after the climb in a long, long line. When things congealed again, it was Team Green smiling. They’d lost just two riders from the lead lap, by far the best represented of the teams, and with no reason to upset the apple cart. Their chances were buoyed further by a smart ride from Ben Price who, after being lapped, was able to rejoin the group and hold on for a few laps, a feat only Red’s Brad Hochstetler would match.
Green’s 10 points in the Madison pull the team within 2 points of Orange heading into the final stage, Sunday’s assault on the Innsbruck KOM. Orange should be able to hold onto second place, though it really is just a battle for second. Red is sitting on an unassailable 46 points, 10 points clear of Orange.
Stage 6 Preview
For Team Blue, Sunday is about the Green jersey. With no fewer than five riders still in with a shot at the Sprint competition, expect a brutal start Sunday and an all-in ride from Blue to get Chris Ostberg the jersey. Three trips up the Leg Snapper on the Innsbruck Afterparty should be plenty painful.
That will throw an additional challenge for the day, with other riders looking to cement or improve their positions on GC or have a go at the Mountains classification. Dan Yankus sits nearly a minute clear of the Green duo of Jesse Keaton and Al McWilliams. The gaps are tiny, however, with the second place to tenth place separated by just a minute.
The final stage finishes atop the Innsbruck KOM, which will take most of the riders roughly 20 minutes to tackle. It’s more climbing than we’ve seen in weeks and, at least timewise, more than the two trips up the Petite KOM from Stage One combined. The lighter climbers have been waiting for this one for a month, and you can expect to see riders like Alex Theophilus, Lucas van Drunen, Ryan Kennedy, Ryan DeFour, and Drew Cummins impress on the slopes of Innsbruck.
Don’t forget, we’re donating profits from all DIRTy Mitten t-shirts to Father Fred this winter.