After time and points focused on the sprinter’s last week, the big guns and the specialists will turn their attentions to the climbs.
With Ty Schmidt now ten seconds clear on the GC, it may come down to a battle of time bonuses. His margin over Craig Webb won’t stand if the Canadian isn’t able to either take the time bonuses himself, or get a helping hand from his stable of fast teammates to knock them out for him.
One rider who’ll be instrumental to that end is Ryan Kennedy. After nearly ten days off the bike, he returned to a lackluster ride, but only by his standards. He was still well below the 42 minute benchmark, and with a week of riding in his legs, he should be able to contest the stage win. He may well get the nod to head up the road from Schmidt, who can then put Webb ahead of him, or call on the Brothers Kushman for pace-making. The Kushmans may also have their collective eye on the KOM competition, and with double points on offer for the day, it may be fruitful to be on the front with the hammer down, even if it’s dragging along first and second place on the GC.
Behind, Pete Skellenger can effectively wrap up the green jersey by taking a few points on Stage 3, especially if any Einstein racers pick them off ahead of Schmidt or Webb. Skellenger will be looking to hold onto his fourth place overall, where is sits just over 30 seconds off the podium. Chris Kushman holds third, but may be called onto to risk it all to help Schmidt fend off the challenge from a flying Craig Webb. Nate St. Onge retains fifth after a tough stage two where he lost two places, though he’s feeling in better form after using the Boyne Marathon as training. Steve Andriese, while not in the GC race, may be Craig Webb’s only useful ally on Stage 3, and he’ll be called to the fore should Schmidt make a move over the first climb of the day.
Spencer Payne is still riding high in the overall, though he’ll have to defend against Jason Whittaker and Dave Bucholtz, both of whom are still within striking distance. If Payne can get through Stage 3 with his margin over JW intact, he should be able to ride defensively in the finale.
Webb has the Best Old Rider Competition sewn up, but the battle for second is heating up. Lars Welton has yet to be able to dislodge Rob Goepfrich from his wheel in two stages, with Goepfrich happy to simply hold on. They are on the same time, though Welton may do well to force Goepfrich forward and attack him in coming days.
Two riders of note that will not start this evening are Jason Lowetz and Bennett Paul. Lowetz is undergoing altitude training in a plane, whilst Bennett has retired from the Tour to assess his rough first two stages and look forward to the Vuelta Competition starting next month. He also has a dentist appointment. So.
The Mountain Stage will be very valuable for the KOM jersey, and also for the GC. Similar to the sprint stage, the climbing points will be worth 20 points and descending to the top five, but just as importantly worth time bonuses worth 20, 15 and 10 seconds to the top three. Schmidt’s ten second pick up on stage to gave him a lead by that very amount, and he’ll have to be watchful not to fall prey to a similar move from Webb, who has been posting impressive times on both the VASA CC Climb and Anita’s Hill. Once again, other riders going off the front, or bridging up should the GC men start to look at each other, could make the difference on the day and at the end of the Tour.
Here’s a quick look at the GC heading into Stage Three.
|Week 1||Week 2||Time||Total|
|Nate St. Onge||0:40:30||0:42:45||0:00:00||1:23:15|