Saddle up, pardner.
We’re home, home on the range and we’ve got a thousand-head herd of Western puns for you. It’s the Winter Western Tour presented by DIRTy Mitten Racing League.
Stage 1: The Quick and the Dead
Starting off the Tour was a mid-week iTT. There was hardly a lick of elevation on offer, with the Tempus Fugit TT gaining a total of 15 feet in the whole darn tootin’ segment. That opened up the door to some big hosses to lay down the power, and boy howdy, they sure did!
Two of the best rides of the day came from some real power hombres, Chris Ostberg (391 W avg) and Dan Korienek (374 W avg.), good enough to scoot both riders into the top ten. But it was the young buck, Aaron Mahoney, who took the win, getting around the course in a hurry to set a time of 22:30. He finished ahead of Bandit rider (no team affiliation, no GC role) Jon Roobal and Al “Ol’ Red” McWilliams in 3rd.
Ol’ Red’s third on the stage was backed up by a powerful, lawless posse of his gang, with Korienek, Ben Shields, and Ryan DeFour all coming in the top 20, good enough to give Team Django the Team Competition win for Stage 1. Team Eastwood was not whistlin’ Dixie, however, with second place. Team Tuco inherits the bad luck of the Team Blue jersey from last tour and is in last; some would say, however, that a man makes his own luck.
Stage 2. The Magnificent 8
What do you call a stage with two KOMs but less than 1,000 feet of total elevation gain? Is it a sprint stage?
Stage 2 was tough to predict, but with everyone looking to take back a fist full of seconds, there was plenty on the line. After a short neutral roll out, the shootin’ started on the Dirty Sopressa, and as you might of figured, it was the Sovis boys from Team Eastwood who pulled the trigger first. Wes Sovis said draw, firing off a shot that stung out the whole wagon train.
A man hardly had a second to put his hat back on before the race hit the first KOM of the day, the Reverse KOM. Timing it perfectly, Dan Yankus took the points and even as the top 20 riders regrouped, the field was cut in half.
That setup a perfect chance for yellow jersey wearer, Aaaron Mahoney, to go clear, and go clear he did, churning out and holding a 32 second lead for almost the rest of the race.
Behind, Team Django couldn’t quite decide whether to chase or not, with McWilliams pulling a bit but unable to change the deficit. Trevor Gibney and Ryan Kennedy from Team Tuco couldn’t be convinced, and while the first chase group rolled along, they still put plenty of dust between themselves and a second chase group chock-full of Korieneks and other no-account bad men.
With a huge move over the final KOM, Yankus swept up maximum mountain points but dramatically cut the deficit to his teammate. Luckily, the elastic snapped between his wheel and a slew of riders, including McWilliams, Jeremey Karel, DeFour, and Drew Cummins. Yankus did pull Gibney clear, but once paired up with Mahoney, Eastwood went 1-2 on the stage and saw 5th place as well with a massive sprint from Ted Schneider.
That small gap on the line also gives Mahoney two stage wins and opens up the lead on GC to darn near a minute. It also means Yankus sidles his way into second on GC, with Ol’ Red McWilliams battling to keep the farm in 3rd.
It’s another long day in the saddle (that was a freebie) next Sunday for Stage 3, with a 51km foray in Japan. The 3:10 to Yumezi stage rolls out at 0800 on January 23.
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