The Queen Stage of Winter is Coming 3 did not disappoint. With the A/B riders taking on over 3,000 feet of elevation in 34 miles and with the overall GC far from decided, there was nowhere to run or hide on Sunday’s final stage.
With less than 20 seconds separating GC leader Jeb Stone from sixth place, there was everything to race as the series headed to the Big Apple. Race Organizer selected the eSports World Championship route, complete with 3 trips up the NYC KOM, to decide the race. Thanks to a little merciful spreadsheet shuffling, the Team Competition was tighter, too, with Grey 2 points behind a tie between Green and Blue for second, with Orange well clear.
After a successful trial last week, the C and D categories were scored separately and raced a slightly abbreviated course, finishing atop the KOM after two laps, with the A pen rolling along for three trips up.
All riders started together but the splits started early. Despite a 2km neutral start, the field shredded 5km in on the Harlem Climb. In a statement that would be repeated throughout the day, it was Team Grey’s Dan Yankus on the move. Combined with moves from teammate Al McWilliams, the Grey duo sliced and diced the field, putting in huge attacks almost every climbs and dropping riders in chunks.
The GC riders’ teammates slowly fell away, with Roobal losing Jason Johnson and Nate Williams, Josh Concannon eventually losing a tough-as-nails Ben Shields and Farmland 5km Combined winner Brad Pauly, and race leader Jeb Stone spending much of the race solo after losing Cody Sovis, Collin Snyder and Eric Langley.
Behind, the race was in groups of 5 or less, mostly separated by 30-60 seconds. Team Blue played it smart, with Phi Schiller and Steve Harris dropping back to a group and working; it was enough to put more than four minutes into Wes Sovis and gave Blue a nice points haul in the 20-25 finish range.
Green had a similar game plan, with Snyder and Langley weathering attacks from Orange’s Lucas van Drunen. The pair dropped several riders over the course of the race, ultimately catching Brad Pauly and besting van Drunen to put a total of 4 riders in the top ten, twice as many as the next squad.
In the finale, though, all the top riders were emptying the tank. 5 riders spend the last third of the race carefully eyeing each other up. Despite repeated attacks from Yankus, Stone never cracked. Going onto the final climb, it was Yankus’s attack that blew up the group, ultimately putting almost a minute into Josh Concannon. Concannon might be the revelation of the tour, a third round pick in the thick of things for six stages. Roobal finished off an impressive ride for Blue with 4th on the day behind McWilliams, Yankus and the stage winner and your Winter is Coming 3 champion, Jeb Stone.
Crucial Points Tallies
Stone also led the total points for the stage with 179, 20 points clear of Christ Ostberg. Roobal and Johnson each pocketed 158 for Blue ahead of Yankus on 157.
It may have been the C/D race that decided the team points competition. Joel Smith took the win, swapping places with last week’s C winner, Carl Copenhaver. Green’s Ben Price was third, but a round of applause for almost-certainly-a-spy Alissa O’Hagan in 6th after taking a “vacation”…subverting the Panamanian government seems more likely.
Special shoutouts to Shannon McLouth, Jim Kindle, Rick B. and Greg LaMay for gutting it out on an extremely tough day.
The same should be said for the riders who stepped up to A, with Doug Mastroianni, Brad Hochstetler both putting in a rock-solid 1:46+ for the day.
The Final Standings
Team Orange takes top points for the final stage and cruises to the overall Team Competition win. The squad had it all; consistent attendance, a GC rider, Chris Ostberg dominating the sprints, and a slew of riders finishing in the top 20 day in and day out.
Blue’s heroics on Stage 6 also earn them second for the season, with Roobal, Copenhaver and Ryan Macguire leading the team’s tally.
Green was all about Stone, who was one of just two riders to score more than 1,000 points. Collin Snyder, Cody Sovis and Eric Langely were the next contributors to the squad.
Yankus scored a whopping 1,096 and largely kept Grey in the mix all season. They also picked up a big boost from the mid-season transfer of Matt LeVesseur and third-place GC finisher Al McWilliams.
Stayed tuned for a three-event microtour the weekend of the 17th before the holiday break. We’re also getting very, very close to the 2023 Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, which kicks off January 14 with Fat and Flurrious.