Winter Western Tour Stage 3: 3:10 to Yumezi
Someone was getting on the train.
The longest stage of the Winter Western Tour paired with less than 1,000 feet of total elevation with a maximum gradient…sounds like a sprint stage, right?
Well, kind of. With 1,2,3,4….FIVE sprint points plus even more on the line, it was always going to be a measured mix of chaos and snap decisions. Just like life in the ol’ West.
With Team Eastwood’s Aaron Mahoney just over 30 seconds clear of his teammate and 40 seconds clear of Team Djando’s Al McWiliams, and with so much flat roads, GC wasn’t fixin’ to be the talk of the town. Instead, it was about bike choice, with the option of riding a gravel bike to make the most of a short gravel section and an gradual gravel climb at least bandied about. On the line, only a few riders opted for gravel, making road the choice of the day.
That was reinforced by the sprint heavy dance card, with a total of 6 places to pick up points in the Sprint competition. The big opportunity to pocket points made for some interesting dynamics; once gapped, many riders coalesced into what became a de facto Sprinting Grupetto, gabbing between furious bare-knuckle brawls at each spring point.
That led to a dramatic time gap, with over 7 minutes between the GC leaders and the sprint-focused bunch behind, with a few stragglers in between.
It was a day tailor-made for Tuco’s Chris Ostberg, with Carl Capenhaver also totally committed to the sprints, so much so that he was happy to take a natural break in the middle of the day’s proceedings.
How It All Played Out
With each group only able to see their own sprint times and FST counting for the points, it may take a little digging to finalized points. However, the vibe of the day is that Ostberg put on a show, but there could be any number of scenarios that will almost certainly tilt the total points earned on the day, deciding both the sprint jersey and the team competition.
Despite two gradual climbs on the map, race organizers decided not to award KOM points on the day.
The GC battle took the form of a boxing match several rounds long. Early, the great and the good looked comfortable, but late in the second lap, strong riders found the end of their respective roads. Ryan Kennedy lost ground for Tuco, then Ben Shields lost the bunch for Django, giving Eastwood numbers on the front. On the last lap, Django also lost Ryan DeFour, though he looks to have brought in a ton of points of the team.
With McWilliams marching off the front for Django, Eastwood countered with Mahoney and Yankus, with a front group eventually comprising Jon Roobal, Trever Gibney, and a flying Jamison Sheppard slamming into the downhill finish.
On the line, Roobal took a well-earned win ahead Yankus ahead of Gibney and Sheppard. McWilliams’ big ride ended with 4th, while the yellow jersey rolled home ceding 1 second to his teammate. The jersey looks increasing comfortable for Mahoney.
Jeb Stone may have saved Django’s day by winning the bunch sprint for 7th ahead of Ted Schneider, with Jeremy Karel and Joey Bianchini rounding out the top ten.
Kudos, Kudos Golly!
Massive props to Cassy Stone for being the ONLY woman to toe the line in the Western Winter Tour. She won every sprint she was gunning for. She needs some competition!
Jason Johnson. After learning some hard lessons last week, Jaybird was instrumental in organizing a strong sprint train from teammates Keegan Korienek and Wesley Stocker.
Jeremy Karel likely saved the stage for Django by chasing down a number of last-lap moves and helping to deliver Jeb Stone to the line. Stone and Karel’s finishing positions all but erased a numerical advantage from Eastwood.
All the Results
Stage 3’s Zwift Power Results are here.
You can see all the standings as they’re updated here.
Check out the FULL RACE video from the chase group here.