Stage Two is nearly upon the Tour contestants, and the battle to take the green jersey takes center stage.
The overall classification never out of mind, the center of attention at least for a week moves to the Vasa Power Section, where a number of non-GC men will try to take double points over the 2.8 mile segment. At the moment, Tyler Kelly holds the lead by two points, and stands as the first City Bike rider to ever hold a SOL Grand Tour jersey. He will be up against a plethora of contenders already in the GC hunt, but those now only looking for points in the combination of mountain and sprint points.
Two riders almost certain to make a run are Sean Kickbush and Ty Schmidt. The duo missed the first stage, and now, are free to take some chances in the pursuit of the green jersey. And risks they must take, as getting a safe time gap can often mean dangling ten to fifteen seconds off the back of the front group and emptying the tank to get back on before the end of the segment, often still needing to sprint it out to the end. It takes nerves of steel and a massive engine to pull off, and with so many in the hunt, it could make for a wild race.
Steve Andriese, Eli Brown, Nate St. Onge and others are in the same boat, but for Kelly and the GC men around him, it’s even more of a risk, as they could lose time in the overall standings. Einstein Racing having already stated that they will not focus on the points or mountains classification in order to better defend the high positions of yellow jersey Ryan Kennedy and 3rd placed rider Ryan Kushman, but with so many others with an interest, the whole race could be in chaos as the leaders hit the Power Section.
The also means current KOM leader, tied with Keegan Myers, Jason Whittaker will not take too many chances on the Vasa CC Climb, especially with double points in that competition still a week away. Rob Goepfrich, sitting in second and on the same time as White Jersey wearer Lars Welton, will also ignore those points, as the duo renew their neck-and-neck battle for elderly supremacy.
The weather for Thursday looks to be the nicest of the week so far, with temperatures into the seventies and with no rain in the forecast. After a few days of rain, the course should be even faster than last week, which saw no fewer than 9 riders go under the important 40 minute mark. Prior, only around a dozen riders had ever bested the mark in three years. The success has alerted race organizers to look at a drug testing system that, according to an official release, “should start any minute. So be ready to piss, everybody”.
Finally, there are also rumors of a Wes Sovis return to SOL. The Einstein racer hasn’t ridden off-road since May, and has been a tough recruit to rejoin the fray. His agent has downplayed both the chances of an SOL appearance, and the expectations. “If Wes were to return, it would only be as a domestique and in a support role, perhaps as a helper for Rob Goepfrich. Wes is currently at altitude and we will look at some of his numbers after camp before deciding where he races next,” said his long-time agent, Harry B. Allsworth.
Stage Two starts from Einstein Cycles at 6.30pm, or the Vasa 25km Lot at 6.45, this Thursday.