A challenging weekend capped off the final week of action at the Winter is Coming Tour. DIRTy Mitten Racing League’s first stage race of the season wrapped up with plenty to fight for on the final state, not to mention honors for taking what was certainly the Queen Stage.
Heading into the final stage of the race, no fewer than five riders had a legitimate chance to take the coveted green jersey. With points up for grabs for the first time since Stage 3, Team Blue entered with both Chris Ostberg and Keegan Korienek in with a shout and Team Red’s Wes Stocker and Ryan DeFour still in the game.
The Innsbruck map was perfect to set up a final fight, and each of the three trips up the Leg Snapper was desperate for more and more of the riders.
Team Blue did an excellent job balancing their two riders, though DeFour was up for the fight. Ostberg and DeFour each took 35 points on the stage, with Keegan picking up 30. In the end, that was enough to give Blue and Ostberg-Korienek 1-2, with Stocker and DeFour 3-4. Alex Theophilus, the top points earner on Stage 3, rounds out the top 5, though he had different goals on the stage.
The GC Fight
Like Theophilus, DeFour also had to keep something in the legs for the final climb, a 20-minute assault of the Innsbruck KOM.
With stage honors up for grabs, there was also plenty of opportunities to shift the GC. In turn, a few spots here or there could also reshape the Team Competition, a point that both Team Red and Team Green were well aware of.
With a splintered front group leading smaller bunches trying to chase on, it was Team Green’s Cody Sovis and Jeb Stone trying to hold off a small group that included Ryan Kennedy be reaching the base of the KOM. Expecting a 20 minute ahead, Stone, perhaps the revelation of this Tour, set a strong pace until the gradient kicked up. Paying for his spring efforts, DeFour was the first of the top ten GC riders to fade, opening the door for Green to split up the Red Bloc ensconced in places 6-10.
In a speculative, very French-rider-on-Bastille-Day attack, Cody Sovis went and quickly found a 9-second lead. Behind, Red was quickly put in a tough decision; chase and go for the stage or stay together and chase, which might have saved their GC spots and garnered more team points.
Yankus, the yellow jersey wearer, bridged instead, bringing with him his two closest rivals on GC, Jesse Keaton, and Al McWilliams. The pair were dogged all Tour, and were all set to make something of the final stage. Jon Roobal, too, make the move, but fell off the pace late. Roobal would cap off a top five GC result, a great showing to kick off winter.
Behind, Sovis would put in enough time on Kennedy and DeFour, though was only barely able to distance Eric Langley, a Zwift newbie that proved one of the top rides in the very virtual peloton.
Near the top, however, Red would have the last laugh, with Yankus moving late and taking both the stage and the GC win. Keaton and McWillams were next in and did much to decide the final Team Competition standings with 2-3 on the stage.
The Team Competition
While Red had the team competition wrapped up before the day started, Orange and Green entered separated by 2 points. Green’s incredible run through the TTT and Madison continued Sunday, where they picked up 707 points for the stage and 10 points toward the competition, moving them into a tie on 44 points for second overall behind Red. Green gets the nod, however, with the most points on the final stage. Blue would take comfort in the green jersey, though they finished a distant fourth place and netting just over half of Red’s tally, 52 to 28.
The Next Tour
Winter Is Here kicks off the weekend of January 15 with all new stages and new teams. This time, captains will pick their squads and look to find the right balance of riders to focus on GC, the Mountains and Sprints classifications, and the Team Competition.
Stage results on Zwift Power are INTERESTING. (Sort by time for the correct finish order.)
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See where everyone finished up on the results spreadsheet.
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