The 2023 DIRTy Mitten Racing League’s final Tour of the season wrapped up this weekend with two thrilling stages that pushed riders to their limits. A knockout Elimination race, a GC battle on the Champs Elysees and plenty of creative arithmetic made it a fitting conclusion to what has been another exciting winter.
Stage 5 – Elimination
You know how the UCI eSports World Championships ended with an elimination race? They basically copied Brad Hochstetler. Brad whipped up a pretty nifty version that kept everyone racing. Just like playing pick-up 3 on 3 at the Y, it was “win and stay on”, expanding from one race into 4 over 4 rounds.
Spread across four maps, this was always going to be one for Team Telekom, led by Chris Ostberg and Collin Snyder. The duo were backed up with some huge efforts from Kevin Soules, sub Jason Whittaker, and a flying Jason Johnson.
The cream inevitably rose to the top, with Dan Yankus, Al McWilliams and Jon Roobal cruising to the finale. Yankus took top points in A, buoyed by wins in the C and D pens as well. That B pen when to a bandit, Kyle Schutte, with yellow jersey Brad Pauly doing it himself in second. A huge move from Marc Walters sealed 5th for Mapei, crucially nabbing points from Telekom’s Ostberg, Snyder and Johnson.
Ride of the day likely goes to Erik Godzilla, who tossed a second Uno second-place in the C pen ahead of the flying Telekom pair of Whittaker and Soules. Godzilla wrecked Telekom’s day like he so often wrecked Tokyo, kicking the Boys in Pink into third on the stage and setting up a Telekom/Mapei tie heading into Stage 6.
Related: DAF Stages 3 + 4 Recap
Stage 6 – Oh, Champs-Elysees!
The grand finale. Just like the Tour, Dope AF wrapped up on the Champs-Elysees, although it would be anything but a parade. The field split into multiple groups the very first time through the sprint, resulting in a 26 mile drag race with 5 sprint points up for grabs.
The stage was far more tactical than expected, with multiple items on the to-do list, including a Mapei assault on Brad Pauly’s GC 90 seconds GC lead. Yankus, Roobal and BANDIT John Burmeister got away early, leaving Uno without a shot at the stage win. Instead, they rallied around their GC man and never let him get isolated.
Mapei’s committed but futile attacks ultimately created an odd mix; Marc Walters 1 minute behind the lead group and 30 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey group, with almost the entire field another 40 seconds back. It stayed that way to the line, with Walters riding half the race solo with a 30 second lead that waxed and waned every trip through the sprint.
Yankus wrapped up the win, but as the groups came through finish, it was impossible to say which team had come out on top. In the aftermath, Telekom put three riders in the top 5 on points, with Al McWilliams and Brad Pauly 5th and 6th for Uno.
As it’s been all season, the difference was in depth. Behind Yankus amazing 210 point haul, Mapei put Walters, Carl Copenhaver, Greg Giles and Mike Reeves in spots 8-11, plus Cody Sovis in 1th for good measure. The squad put 6 riders in the top half of finishers, with Telekom the closest with 4.
Stage 6 Team Standings (and final team finish order)
- Mapei – 1257
- Telekom – 1186
- Uno – 1031
Brad Pauly Earns Yellow
A top five contender in every stage race, Brad Pauly takes his first-ever GC win thanks to incredible consistency from Stage 1. He survived a day under pressure on Stage 3, losing a chunk of time to his closest GC rival, Cody Sovis, on the mountainous Achterbahn stage in Innsbruck.
On top of pulling serious points for Mercatone Uno and being surrounded by a phalanx of support, Pauly never looked troubled on the final stage and ultimately could have handled Cody Sovis’s final efforts solo, if needed.
Kevin Soules steps onto the third step of the podium, a nice way to end the Tour for a rider who is constantly working for teammates – a task he carried out to perfection this final weekend.
Man, didn’t think about that. Kind of feel lost. Rudderless.
We need to thank Brad Hochstetler for investing so much time, effort and brainpower into this Series. Brad and Carl Copenhaver have pushed Zwift and Zwiftpower to its very limits over the past three years. DIRTy Mitten Racing League has helped to make the darkest four months of the year so much brighter. We can’t tell you guys how much we appreciate it!