With two podium placed riders not taking the start, it’s a battle for points after the penultimate stage.
While Ryan Kennedy’s non-start was announced by team management early before the stage, third placed rider Eric Grassa was a last minute DNS, opening up the podium but closing off the race for places expected to take center stage.
Instead, new race leader Ty Schmidt rode with a comfortable 3 minutes lead over new second placed rider Cody Sovis, and much of the group focused on points, rather than time. That momentum did, however, lead to some blistering fast efforts on a day with a renewed interest and enthusiasm in the Giro Competition.
Brent Wiersma, TJ Jenema, Brian Beauchamp, Rob Goepfrich and Dave Bucholtz brought some depth to the field, but the race was split almost immediately as the field hit the Vasa CC Climb. Worth double KOM points, it served to allow a breakaway that was spearheaded by the M-22 duo of Sean Kickbush and Keegan Myers, with the first and second riders on GC, Schmidt and Sovis, also in contact.
It was Ty Schmidt with the fastest time over the climb, with Myers, Sovis and Kickbush posting the next best efforts ahead of Brian Beauchamp, who picked up 4 points. Schmidt’s efforts tied the record held by Jorden Wakeley, with the other three riders in the break now sitting in the top ten of all time.
Over the top and with some daylight back to the other riders, it was Sean Kickbush to the front of affairs over Woodchip Hill, with Myers adding some pace when necessary. Myers took a wrong turn before the singletrack, but was quickly back in touch over the Power Section, where Kickbush gave way to the new pink jersey to control the race. Schmidt rode a solid tempo to control the bouncing Sovis over his shoulder, and once Myers was back on, the M-22 riders essentially kept the GC battle in check with their fast pace.
Sovis attacked once near the end of the Power Section looking for points, but Myers’ resurgence to the leaders meant he would post the top time of the day there as well, with Sovis a full six seconds back, followed by Schmidt, with Beauchamp, Jenema and Goepfrich chasing hard about a minute and a half back.
Myers and Kickbush pulled away with about 4 miles to go, and the 1-2 GC riders started to ride for time. Sovis attacked three more times, but Schmidt was always in control, if stretched once or twice. Sovis managed to pull out 15 seconds or so, nothing like the type of gap that would even dent Schmidt’s lead, and even that was a fleeting freedom. The pair would roll to the line separated by a single second, and Schmidt should have this Giro all but wrapped up.
For stage honors, Myers nabbed two seconds over Kickbush, the icing on the cake on a day that saw him move into serious contention for both the Sprint and Mountains classifications. He’ll owe a bit of thanks to a spectacular ride from Kickbush, who spent almost the entire first half of the ride setting a stern tempo.
Laura Webb was back after missing Stage Two, and she was back in some style. She set a new women’s record of 46:24. She shouldn’t have too hard a time getting under 45:00 by the end of the summer, and may be able to target the Tour come July.
Brian Beauchamp led home the Hagerty continget with a great time of 42:34, around three minutes back from the Schmidt/Sovis group. Beauchamp was followed by Brent Wiersma, Tim Jenema and Einstein’s Rob Goepfrich, who can wrap up the Best Old Rider’s Competition with a finish next week.
Schmidt enters the finale with a lead of 4:16 over Sovis, who is 6:56 clear of teammate Rob Goepfrich for the podium spot.
The final stage is June 5, and the jerseys will still up up for grabs. Check out the GC and standings below.
|KOM||Stage One||Stage Two||Stage Three||Stage Four|
|Steve Andriese 2||2||0||0||2|
|Sprint Points||Stage One||Stage Two||Stage Three||Stage Four|