With Tour green jersey winner Pete Skellenger not in the race, the green jersey competition is up for grabs right away on Stage One.
The first stage opens in style with a golden opportunity for the sprinters to take the lead in the points race. It’s wide open, too, with the former winner out of the running. There’s a number of riders that won’t be in the General Classification hunt after day one, which means they may have other ideas.
The obvious candidates are, however, the GC men, especially early. Einstein Racing has too many chefs in the kitchen, and to keep all the big guns happy, they may look to spread the spoils around, handing off the sprints jersey to workhorses like Ryan and Chris Kushman. Tour win Ty Schmidt is the incumbent team leader, though all indications are that it will be a free-for-all to dictate who will lead the team going forward. Jason Lowetz is back to top form, as is Ryan Kennedy, both of whom are certainly stage winners in the making.
Craig Webb would be the Hagerty answer if he makes the first selection. His form is in question after a visit to Colorado, making him the ultimate question mark heading into the Vuelta. Behind him, who Hagerty is sending will be a mystery until the gun goes. With a deep stable of talent, just who makes the start could well decide the podium. Brent Wiersma, Steve Andreise, Hal BeVier and the whole armada would climb up the overall, but they need to be there to make it happen.
Two riders that will certainly make their marks on the Power Section are Bennett Paul and Eric Pollard. Both have adopted cyclocross bikes, the perfect ride for the green jersey. If they are close coming onto the two mile Power Section, they could combine to go well under nine minutes, a great mark to shoot for.
The sprint points on offer are 20, 15, 12, 10, 7 to the top five, a big boost toward the long-goal of green by the end of September. It’s a massive opportunity to get a leg up, especially if the race for yellow looks out of touch by day’s end.
The 2013 Speed of Light Vuelta Competition starts at 6.30pm at Einstein Cycles, or 6.45 pm at the VASA 25km Parking Lot.