The first stage of the four part stage race is in the books after a slog in the rain.
Scott Luca of Einstein Racing emerged as a heavy favorite in the first stage of the event, taking a healthy 45 second lead over teammate Bennett Paul. With rain coming down at the start and the trail turning to peanut butter and soggy sand pits galore, the SOL course was in difficult shape for the riders gunning for a high overall placing.
Bennett Paul took a healthy hole shot, with Luca lumbering up a mile or so down the course as the leaders crossed the first two track crossing. The pair rode together in starts and spurts, with Luca putting in a move and then settling onto Paul’s wheel across the Power Section.
Behind, Cody Sovis turn a wrong turn to lose third place, chasing on to Shawn Luca and trying to pull back the leaders as they rode ahead on the Power Section. The fast start obliterated the field, and riders were spread out all over the course as they turned back toward the finish, with the harrowing descents and final obstacle, Anita’s Hill, left to tackle.
Luca put in a move that shed Bennett Paul, while Shawn Luca dropped a struggling Sovis over the top of a small climb. A misshift ended Sovis’ bid to latch onto Luca, who sped off in pursuit of a third place finish on the day. Jason Lowetz, astride a Salsa Beargrease, was gaining ground in the sand and on the descents, with another Einstein racer, Sean Kickbush, on his tail and closing.
The Most Combative Rider Award goes to Bennett Paul for his blistering attack off the line and his man0-y-mano showdown with eventual winner Scott Luca. The duo also give Einstein Racing a huge lead in the Team Competition, as well. The Boys In Pink dominated the day’s proceedings, with six riders in the top ten, including three in the top five.
The first stage of four will certainly raise some questions from the Hagerty Cycling contingent, who could only manage fourth on the day, nearly three minutes down. They’ll need big performances from the Sovis Brothers and SS King Dave Bucholtz in the coming weeks if they want to move up to second in the team competition.
After one stage, the general classification is as follows:
Scott Luca 43:05
Bennett Paul 43:50
Shawn Luca 44:44
Cody Sovis 46:01 (CX)
Jason Lowetz 46:30 (FB)
Sean Kickbush 46:45
Dave Walston 47:25
Jeff Galsterer 47:45
David Bucholtz 49:00 (SS)
Shawn McNamara 49:21
Gary Chastain 49:27
Wes Sovis 49:30 (CX)
John Bachmann 54:00
Dan Piahala 57:21
Matt Harris 1:02:02
Team Competition (Top two riders from each team)
1. Einstein Racing 1:26:55
2. McLain Racing 1:34:25
3. Hagerty Cycling 1:35:01