Stage 6: A Million Ways to Die in the West
To quote a real-life, actual cowboy: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to walk away, and when to run”. The great Kenny Rogers spent many a hard-earned dollar in a dilapidated saloon to earn that wisdom. It was wisdom lost on this cattle drive, with the Winter Western Tour leaving Stage 6, the Queen Stage, up to the ultimate cattle baron around these parts: Zwift.
There were inklings that things could go south, but a jerry-rigged theory to ensure all riders went the same way after the official Climber’s Gambit route ended went haywire. Instead, GC time was taken 3 miles short of the intended finish, but the tornado had already blown through by that point in the ride anyway.
With Eastwood coming out guns blazing, Team Django had two riders out of the game before the hoedown started. Their GC leader, Al McWilliams, bowed out, as did Ryan DeFour. Eastwood wasn’t playing with a full deck, either, down ace gunslinger Joey Bianchini and Jason Johnson. Tuco was short Ryan Kennedy, Jamison Sheppard, and Carl Copenhaver. The wagon train, it would seem, had plenty of bodies to bury.
How It Went Down
With the opening sprint just 1km into Stage 6, Chris Ostberg had to shine his spurs and get along little doggy. He took top points and the race organizers made’em a double. Keegan Koreinek was second (he must have had two Red Bulls). Eastwood put 3 riders in the top five, but Django slid 2 in as well, plus the next three riders through. Things couldn’t be closer.
Next, it went up. While the Reverse KOM wasn’t taken in its entirety, it did see a few riders slide back. Much of the group was together into Titan’s Grove, where the flat prairie gave way to the rolling foothills. That alone saw the gaps open, and it was already stretched out when riders hit the Titan’s Grove KOM.
Yankus took top points there, but with Jeb Stone and Jeremy Karel 2-3 ahead of Ted Schneider, it was another draw. Steve Harris was on his best ride of the season for Django, snagging points in 7th, just ahead of teammate Ben Shields. While the gaps were small, through the Grove, it was advantage Django.
The Reverse Epic KOM
Finally, after waiting for some elevation all Tour, the climbers had their mountain to play on for Stage 6. Cody Sovis went early, and it was a group of just 13 within just a few hundred meters of a climb that most expected to take 20 minutes. The combined effort of Jon Roobal, race leader Aaron Mahoney, Tuco’s last man standing Trevor Gibney (and his brother, Brady), as well as Sovis steadily pressed out a lead. Django’s Karel, Shields, and Stone, all ceded ground, but put in simply amazing rides to limit their losses on the steeper slopes. Schneider, too, rode a 20 minute time trial to stay clear and lock in some valuable team points for Eastwood.
At the top, Yankus further consolidated his KOM jersey win and found himself racing clear with both Gibneys and a Roobal, with the yellow jersey, Mahoney, paired with Sovis chasing behind.
Tuco saw riders step up in a big way. Derrick, Kent McNeil, Ostberg, and Drew Cummins were the core of the third group on the road for most of the ascent and that gave them a big batch of KOM and, ultimately, team points.
Alex Theophilus chased the Eastwood pair furiously, at times coming within seconds of making the catch.
The Finish (Kind Of)
Well, we don’t really know what would have happened, but, as another famous cowboy once said, “It do be like that sometimes.”
Roobal and Gibney’s (both of them) pushing changed the GC standings for the first time since the opening kilometers of Stage 1. That gap found a little more daylight on Stage two, when Aaron Mahoney’s solo move through the desert opened up even more time to his rivals. Despite an impressive chase today, he falls to third on GC, with Yankus moving into his second GC win of the winter and keeping the jersey in the team. Gibney ends up second, but Eastwood still ends the WWT with 4 riders in the top five.
Yankus also takes the Mountains jersey by a single point over McWilliams, with Roobal
Keegan Korienek takes the Points jersey with consistent podium spots all Tour long. He finishes ahead of teammate Dan Yankus and Django’s Steve Harries…and the older, slower Dan Korienek in fourth.
The Team Competition came down the final stage and the final count. Team Django narrowly holds on, albeit it on the strength of a bandit and not their own squad in the finale. Eastwood finishes second, 6 points down, with Tuco at 38 points. Django and Eastwood finish the WWT separated by just over 100 points, 1,1141 to 1,013 total points scored.
Check out the final standings here.
Stay tuned for the DIRTy Mitten Racing League Spring Classics starting 2/27!