For those who can’t make every stage, or those too far back to figure in it, the green and polka dot jerseys are great motivators for some stellar performances.
If you have a Strava account, you have a shot. Each stage of the Tour will include a climb and a sprint worth points toward two competitions that could easily end up closer than the GC picture by the end of the second week. With double points on the third stage, nothing is going to be wrapped up until the final stage on July 25.
To have a chance, racers must submit have their Strava updated by 10pm Thursday night. The GC leader will not be allowed to wear a points jersey in addition to their maillot jaune, though their points will stand should they lose the lead. For riders well behind on the GC, the chance to impress in either competition could alter the look of the race. The sprinters can sit up over the climb in the hopes of keeping their powder dry for the VASA Power Section, while the climber’s can empty the take in the opening kilometers.
The VASA CC Climb takes riders up 130 feet in .7 miles, at an average gradient of 3.6%. However, the big obstacle of the climb is the massive sand pit at its base. Getting stuck behind riders here assures riders of a bad time on the climb, and makes staying in the lead group almost impossible. It will be a major tactical point to have a solid position crossing Holiday Road, a point not lost on GC and climbers alike. The current mark on the climb is Jorden Wakeley at 2:34. Chris Kushman, Craig Webb, Bennett Paul and Jason Whittaker also have high placings and will rely on the section for the GC positioning.
The VASA Power Section is a long, grinding stretch of trail that comes on the heels of the lumpy start of the race. Most of the selections have been made, and gaps are compounded over the fast, relatively flat section that slowly curves round and point riders back toward the finish. It is 2.8 miles in length and actually gains a total of 142 feet at .2%. It’s a drag race, however, and if a few strong riders work together, they may be able to dominate the competition. It wouldn’t be surprising to see riders like Mickey Humpula or Wes Sovis put in solid times, or even serve as leadout men for teammates scoring for the sprint jersey. With Einstein so deep in the GC, they’d have the ability to have a rider or two sit back on the climbs and, armed with a leadout, demolish the sprint point.
Wakeley currently holds the top time on this segment as well, though the Brothers Kushman, Craig Webb, Bennett Paul, Cody Sovis and Mickey Humpula all are in the top ten, and should up their game in the coming weeks. If both Sovii are cannot make a top five after the first two stages, they’ll combine forces to gun for a new record on the segment, likely with Humpula in on it as well.
This may be the best portion of the course for cyclocross bikes to shine, though it’s more out of necessity than ability. With a further five miles of rolling descending and sand, cyclocross diehards like the Sovis Brothers, Mickey Humpula, Chelsea Strate and Eric Pollard will need every second they can muster here.
Riders who can’t take on the whole GC will be doubly-dangerous, and if Ryan Kennedy is free to fly and does not help pace Bennett Paul or Einstein’s top man, he could certainly take both competitions.
Points on offer for each stage will debut later in the week, with a special note on Stage 3’s double points haul as the Queen Stage.