Just hours after the dust had settled and the math had been deemed “close enough”, Winter Is Coming 3 was back on the virtual road for the third stage of the tour.
After an exceptional showing on Stage 2’s individual time trial, Jon Roobal led Blue Horizon in the yellow jersey and with plenty of momentum. Blue’s surprise win kept things close for Orange and Green, while Gray was looking to take the GC lead.
A Change of Venue
Race Director Brad Hochstetler made the switch to Turf’n’Surf late in the week. The change offered up 140′ of additional elevation per lap and retaining the 30 mile distanced promised on Makuri 40.
After a long neutral roll out, the group was together through the tunnel and onto the beach, though it wasn’t long until the rolling 3-5% climbs took their toll. A monster effort from Green’s Jeremy Karel strung the group out and popped some of the GC contenders.
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Even as Karel slid back, Orange’s Chris Ostberg lost ground, reshaping the GC and putting Orange on the defensive but only for a second. The team quickly rallied and found itself with Josh Concannon, Jesse Noble, Ben Sheilds and Brad Pauly all in the front group of 14, comfortably outnumbering the 1s and 2s present from other teams and the scattering of mercenaries.
It’s A Merc
Mercenaries aren’t people, but they do rob valuable points on the line. The inclusion of Jorden Wakeley, Kevin Tarras and Drew Cummins meant that the most sizeable gaps of the day, those in the top ten, could possibly be neutralized if the cards fell just the right way.
And they did.
Dan Yankus, yellow jersey heir, eased onto the case going up the Pain Cavern climb and the elastic broke; half the group scattered out the back like Kevin McAllister’s overstuffed grocery bags. Yankus won the bunch gallop ahead of Wakeley, who hoovered up the 5 point gap for second.
Green’s talismanic Jeb Stone was third, but of course he is. After three stages, he hasn’t finished a stage off the podium yet. Roobal did enough to hold yellow in fourth, with Concannon, Al McWilliams, Kevin Tarras, Ben Shields, Cody Sovis and Brad Pauly rounding out the top ten.
Orange still put four riders in the top 12. Jason Johnson may have saved Blue’s bacon, holding off a massive 11 rider chase group to pocket the most points behind the lead pack.
The GC After Three
Roobal held onto the yellow jersey by just three seconds ahead of Jeb Stone, with McWilliams and Yankus 8 and 9 seconds back. In total, 7 riders are within 63 seconds of the race lead, and with two more demanding stages GC stages ahead, expect plenty of shuffling.
Check out the updated GC, Team Standings and top points scorers.
It’s a double weekend with Stages 4 and 5 back to back over the holiday weekend. Saturday offers up a no-GC, team points only Ominium, followed by another road stage on Sunday.