A man-to-man mirror of the real Tour…and the one in France.
Stage Two of the SOL Tour Competition is coming on quick this evening, and with some fresh rain this past week, it’s going to be perfect for world record attempts. The Competition has drawn an impressive cast of characters, some of which are making striking similarities with riders in France. Here’s a few of them.
Ryan Kennedy is Chris Froome. The overwhelming favorite, the weekly winner and class of the ride, “The President” is back in a support role for Ty Schmidt. It’s a dilemma similar more to last year, admittedly, with Kennedy playing the role of a slightly leashed Froome as he escorts Wiggo/Schmidt to yellow. Also, if the leaders gun for some SOL course and segment records this week, Kennedy will likely be the engine behind much of the attempt.
Nate St. Onge is Nairo Quintana. While the young Colombian’s wildcard skill is the ability to climb and acceleration, St. Onge can downhill better than nearly anyone in the state. If he’s in touch with the elite group through the first half of the course, he can pressure Craig Webb on the multiple descents that bring riders back to the finish. The philosophical mechanic can also appear to be speaking Spanish sometimes, but it’s more likely to be 80’s movie character impersonation.
Spencer Payne is Andrew Talansky. Payne is nearing full strength after a spring spent below 100% health. As he nears his true potential, he’s been climbing up the SOL results and could even threaten for the podium by race’s end. Talansky is moving along a similar curve, closing in on what he’s capable of at the Tour, in spite of losing some time in the Pyrenees over the weekend. He’s still Garmin’s rider for the future, and for Payne, the future is sooner rather than later.
Dave Bucholtz is Jens Voight. Like Jensie, Bucholtz always seems to find another gear when it matters. In fact, he’s found an entire cassette, forgoing his singlespeed for the month as he goes for a GC top five at the SOL Tour. He’s in a good position to make a run, tucked neatly in the group that’s within 30 seconds of the top five. A gap here, a gap there, and he could be in prime spot after Stage Two. They are both older than forty.
Ryan Kushman is Thomas Voeckler. He’s a consummate attacker and rode hyper-aggressively in Stage One. After a flurry of attacks, he still held on to finish in the first big group on the trail, and he’s got the legs to challenge for a top five GC in the stages to come. Like Voeckler, he hasn’t taken a massive scalp yet, but there are plenty of opportunities left yet. For Voeckler, there’s a few more rippling stages that suit a breakaway, and a stage later this week has a perfect launching pad for the Frenchman to rocket away.
Craig Webb is Alejandro Valverde. In the aftermath of the Sky onslaught of Stage 8, the only real survivor was Valverde. When the dust quite literally settled on Stage One of the SOL, Webb was still just one second behind Schmidt with gaps opening up behind him. Unlike the Movistar leader, however, he won’t have a squadron of riders to help him on the front. So far, no other Hagerty riders have survived the VASA CC Climb selection right off the bat, leaving Webb as isolated as Froome on Stage Nine. If anyone has the engine right now to survive, though, it’s Webb.
Jason Lowetz is Andy Schleck. Both are on the comeback trail with massive expectations. While Schleck has impressed by staying in touch over the Pyrenees, Lowetz is still in position to fly up the GC after losing about four minutes to fifth place. He’ll be able to claw back two or three minutes each stage if he’s nearing some form, and Stage Two is a great chance to bridge up. Schleck will have to wait for the Alps to push into the top ten, now sitting in 14th overall, ahead of Cadel Evans even.