The first-ever World Championships wrapped up a splendid season of Speed of Light action in Traverse City.
Ryan Kennedy made a surprise appearance at the Speed of Light World Championships for a shot at the most prestigious title ever. After bowing out at the SOL Tour, his eye was always fixed on the rainbow jersey looming large at the end of the year, and nothing was going to get in the way of the man affectionately known as “Mr. President”.
If Kennedy’s was a nearly year-long intention, the last minute start from Hagerty Cycling’s Susan Vigland was just as much a surprise as it was a treat. After taking most of the year off to attend to things much more important than riding around in Spandex, one of the classiest women in the state made her debut at the Speed of Light on an important date. From the gun she was in control and ultimate took the title unopposed, though she punctuated the win by posting a 49 minute SOL, the fastest by any woman this season. It was a treat to have Vigland back on the trails, and she’ll wear the rainbow stripes for all of 2014.
The Men’s race was always in contest. Lacking some big names but still jam-packed with talent, the elite selection came almost on cue on the VASA CC Climb. Ty Schmidt, Keegan Myers, Ryan Kennedy and Sean Kickbush pulled away from Jake Eliis (who later flatted), Brian Beauchamp and Steve Andriese. That combination meant all the big favorites were present and correct, balancing the need to get ahead with the calculation of keeping their powder dry for the fireworks to start.
In true champion’s style, Ryan Kennedy took a huge dig halfway through the Power Section, and no one in the group reacted. After the race, Kickbush said he was reluctant to try to reel him in, especially with Myers in the group and Ty taking the role of ticket collector with his teammate up the road. The gap went out and no one committed to the chase, least of all the smart Schmidt, who knew better than anyone the type of power Kennedy can put out over a fifteen to twenty minute period.
Finally, it was Myers who broke the trance, flying out of the group over Anita’s Hill and dashing in hot pursuit of Kennedy with the miles running out on him. Schmidt danced out of the saddle, gapped but digging to get time back. Kickbush was just out of touch, and slowly warmed the diesel up to keep Schmidt in sight. In the end, Myers held onto second with Schmidt placing third, giving Einstein Racing three riders in the top five on the day. Hagerty threw Steve Andriese into fifth place, with Brian Beauchamp sixth. The diminutive Beauchamp has been the revelation of the fall, much like Nairo Quintana at the Tour.
Behind, Rob Goepfrich rode smart and outdueled Lars Welton for next-best Old Rider behind Andriese, with Welson enlisting the help of Cody Sovis in the finale but coming up just a second short on the line. Eric Grassa lead home the bunch, which included Brian Klym, Josh Standfest, Mike Okma, Michael Standfest, Jim Picotte and Susan Vigland.
It’s fitting that the area’s two big teams will each have a rider in white and rainbow for 2014. Einstein Racing nabbed its much-desired win with Kennedy while Hagerty’s deep roster of women mountain bikers will have Vigland in the colors, a point of pride in a team with so much talent. The two also share the Brockmiller Elite Endurance connection, with Kennedy one of the headline athletes of the program and Vigland one of its coaches.
That is a wrap on the Speed of Light season, and kolo t.c. and Einstein Cycles would like to thank each and every rider who made it out even one ride this year. We’ve made some changes by adding three Grand Tours and a World Championship, and it’s been a blast getting to meet new riders, catch up with pals and stoke rivalries with the best of intentions. We’re working on tweaking the SOL calendar, including a handicap system that runs through the year, plus more competitions with the race in the Grand Tours. It’s been a blast keeping these going, and we will see you back out there when the snow is gone in April.
2013 Speed of Light World Championships Final Results