PODIUM

The Speed of Light Vuelta Competition is two weeks off, and the GC men are finalizing their fitness ahead of the last Grand Tour of 2013. Ty Schmidt returns as the front runner, with a long list of other contenders. 

Tour champion Ty Schmidt will enter as co-leader with the Brothers Kushman, with the trio of riders spearheading a stacked squad with plenty of options, including the return of Captain Fabulous, Jason Lowetz. There’s a long list of candidates stacked against Hagerty’s top option in Webb, but consistency will be the key, even for the blazing Ty Schmidt.

Einstein director sportif, Jason Whittaker, will miss much of the Competition due to a flaring of studiocyclinitis, an affliction that renders him fit but unavailable for much of the fall. He has already promised an “attacking” showing from his squad, with Schmidt as the center-piece and each Kushman as an option as well. “We don’t come into these big races looking for just stages. Our ambition is to win stages, wear jerseys and come away with a few riders in the top ten. If the win is there, then obviously it’s been a good Vuelta,” he commented while overseeing a brief altitude camp in Tenerife.

Schmidt himself has been quiet in his build-up, skipping two tune-up SOLs before coming back for a third place finish last week. Keegan Myers has emerged as the top newcomer, eerily conjuring images of Nairo Quintana, albeit with a rockin’ pony tail. He’s an outside threat at the GC, though he’ll do it against two strong teams. The emergence of Jason Lowetz, nearing his former speed and top-end, could also bolster the Einstein contingent come August 29. He’s certainly another option to attack late over the power section.

One interesting note is Schmidt’s decision not to race the X100. He may well come into Stage One fresher and will a bit more pep, and at the moment, the Kushmans are also being held in reserve. That leads Lowetz, Ron Sanborn (freshly returned to TC from 6 stages at Breck Epic), John Ammond and a few other fast men to contest the 100 mile race.

How Schmidt rides as the leader, or another option, will be interesting to see when the Vuelta Competition starts on August 29. We’ll preview the race and riders later in the week as a part of the build-up to Stage One.