944977_566677400039867_45837116_n-1

Stage Two is on deck, with Luca looking to defend his lead. But will his biggest competitor be his own teammate?

The first stage of four opened up massive gaps on the general classification, lead by Einstein Racing’s duo of Scott Luca and Bennett Paul. The pair were head and shoulders above the field last week, putting minutes into the other contenders and finishing with just 45 seconds apart after a tight battle over 12 miles of tough, slogging and wet VASA.

Bennett Paul was aggressive last Thursday, and did an awful lot of work after chasing down Luca along the Power Section. There are some rumblings in the Einstein House, and both riders have not voiced their intent to support each other to preserve the win. While Einstein Racing director sportif Jason Lowetz has maintained that all is well in the squad, the Boys in Pink will be under the mircoscope Thursday. Might it be a Wiggins/Froome scenario?

Meanwhile, Hagerty Racing is having the complete opposite issue. The team has been styled as the rival and foil to Einstein Racing since Einstein’s inception, but have come up short after one stage. Cody Sovis could only muster a fourth place finish, almost three full minutes down. David Bucholtz was tenth, a further three minutes back, while Wes Sovis’ cyclocross debut didn’t go exactly as planned. He finished thirteenth, though is expected to ride more aggressively on stage two. “We’re going to go out and attack. We don’t know how the next stage is going to go, or who will be there. We are going to put the pressure on,” he said at a team press conference Wednesday. Though well down on GC, he may have some extra leeway heading into tomorrow’s stage. The team has sent out the call to bring in reinforcements, and there will be more Hagerty blue looking to support the GC men with three stages left.

Ryan Kennedy will be on the start line, though will not be eligible for the GC. A number of other racers will also register their first run of the season, and will have a chance to count for the stage win and Most Aggressive Rider award for the next three weeks.

Stage Two will feature a ten second time bonus to the first rider atop the the day’s first climb. There will also be 6, 4 and 2 second time bonuses for the top three on the day. Einstein Racing will hope to have Kennedy sweep up the top bonus at both, making it almost impossible to lose the overall.

Check back Friday for the recap. It’ll blow your damn mind.