2019 Speed of Light World Championships: Wakeley, O'Hearn Earn Their Stripes
In the final Speed of Light of 2019, two riders earn titles to carry them through until next May.
It was an early end to a grueling season, but with one of the highest honors in the world of fake mountain bike racing, two dozen riders toed the line to have a shot at the rainbow jerseys. Last year’s champion, Kyle Macdermaid, was one of a handful of contenders taking a run at this year’s World Championships, with Jorden Wakeley, Jeff Koch, and Garrett Jenema among the favorites as well.
With the WorldTour wrapped up, Cody Sovis tagged in teammate Al McWilliams for added firepower, with Kent McNeil, now fully recovered from all those tacos, ready to give it a go as well. Erica O’Hearn even enlisted hubby John O’Hearn to pull her around the course, with both riders coming only just slightly off the gas to save something for Sunday’s half Ironman. Erica’s rivals for the women’s title were Bridget Widrig and Avery Sill, with a few missing faces from the women’s start list.
Drew Cummins and Kyan Olshove led the Norte contingent, flanked by the always-strong Reese Cummins. Both Chad and Charlie Black made it out, too, giving Team Orange their strongest showing in months.
Ross Williams opened hostilities, pulling the group to the opening salvo of climbs. A nudge from Cody Sovis saw little reaction and it was largely gruppo compacto heading into the final roller of the Vasa CC Climb. That was where Wakeley opened things up, with Jenema scrambling and grabbing the wheel. Jeff Koch and Cody Sovis were adrift in their wake, but both would get back in touch before Special K, with a huge chase group forming up behind another duo, Kyle Macdermaid and Kent McNeil. The pair battled for much of the day and successfully kept the main bunch at bay, which certainly took some doing with Al McWillams dropping the hammer on the Power Section.
Ahead, Wakeley, Jenema, and Sovis contributed, with Koch content to survive to the hills. Wakeley began to lean into things through the Wall Bypass, where a dropped chain (fixed on the move by a handy front derailleur) saw Sovis gapped. Wakeley stormed the Boonenberg, with Jenema in touch and Koch gapped. Sovis pulled Koch back into touch before the descent to Anita’s, but it was a hill too far and an effort too late. Wakeley was solo over the top, with Jenema finishing second and Sovis and Koch finishing out the top four.
Erica O’Hearn adds a rainbow jersey to a season that includes a yellow jersey and the highest-ever women’s finish on the WorldTour, 11th overall.
That WorldTour ends with Cody proving yet again that being obligated to show is the key to success. He wraps up another title, with John O’Hearn second yet again, but having more top finishes than Cody. Jeff Owens holds onto third easily, with Dan Ellis and Brad Pauly rounding out the top 5.
A very big nod to MiCapital Racing, a team who has improved more than any other this summer. Neil Vajda, Trent Grzegorczyk, and Jason Barnes took huge chunks of time of their SOL laps each and every week, ending this season as some of the toughest riders on course.
A big thanks to everyone who showed up every Thursday (except one!) since May 9! Speed of Light has always been thought of as a free, accessible way to race others and yourself, without traveling or taking up your busy weekend. We’re looking at shaking a few things up to make it even better in 2020. Thank you!