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It could not have been a more exciting or dramatic final to the tightest Tour Competition yet, with Ryan Kennedy holding onto to his first Tour title with a gutsy ride and a strong, selfless team. 

Perhaps the most nervous Speed of Light in history lived up to the hype Thursday evening, with the Queen Stage heading off for two laps of the SOL course for the first time ever. All racers anticipated massive time gaps and a grueling night on the bike, with some riders literally trying to race the setting sun over the horizon to make it to the line in daylight.

It was, for nearly every team, all hands on deck, with nearly every competition still up for grabs, and many of them changing hands on the final night of racing. KEEN brought out the big guns, Eli Brown and Shawn Luca, to help defend Best Old Rider leader Scott Luca against a swarm of Hagerty riders supporting Lars Welton and Einstein Racing’s contingent looking out for Rob Goepfrich.

It truly would be a night for great teammates. The lead group rolled onto the Vasa CC Climb faster than on Stage Three, but lit it up with savage intent over the final lip to the bench. No one was sure who’d taken top points, but the drama of the polka dot jersey was soon firmly in the rear view mirror. Just over the next small climb, disaster struck the yellow jersey. A piercing loud snap and useless bike saw the maillot jaune limping to the side of the trail, with M-22’s juggernaut Sean Kickbush already at full steam. It was fair play, with the race full-on, but riding away from its current leader.

But Einstein Racing, as always, rode smart and preparedly. Riding on Kennedy’s wheel were the two most useful riders that could have been on hand, Cody Sovis and Nate St. Onge. Natron, the world’s best mechanic and one of its finest humans, decided quickly the bike was unrideable and selfless handed over his own, even recently switching to SPD pedals to be of service for just this scenario. Kennedy was back on the move, armed with a bike that could hardly fit him better and a teammate ready to empty the tank to see him back in contention.

Sovis pulled early, with Kennedy briefly and excitedly leaping away in pursuit of the leaders, now barely in sight. Sovis rode back up and led across the Power Section, making a run at the green jersey in the process. “The plan was never to go for the green jersey today, but it worked out. It was just sort of necessary to stay in yellow,” Kennedy commented afterwards. Sovis made up ground, then held the gap heading into the final 400 meters of the segment when Kennedy leapt away in pursuit of the lead group, which contained Keegan Myers, Sean Kickbush, Tyler Kelly, Josh Zelinski, Luke Tjosvold, Ty Schmidt and few others. Sovis and Kennedy had swept up teammate Jason Whittaker, who stayed on the gas even as Kennedy rode away, just in case he would be needed.

Kennedy made contact shortly later, with Myers and Kickbush left to try to ride the yellow jersey off their wheel. Behind, the assembled militias were riding to a stalemate for the white jersey. Luca, the race leader and with no reason to attack, let Lars Welton, his closest challenger, dictate the early course of affairs for the first lap, with Welton relying on the like of Tim Jenema to keep things under control, with Rob Goepfrich and the Einstein contingent keeping close tabs as well. KEEN played it perfectly, launching a massive move late to ride Goepfrich off the wheel, with Welton holding on for what’s left of his live, which we hope is a lot. The duo crossed the line with Eli Brown, Shawn Luca not too far back either, with Scott adding a Best Old Rider title to his runner-up Giro finish in 2013.

Kennedy matched wits and speed for the second lap, with riders peeling off left and right. A big move from Kickbush was parried almost as a mark of honor, with Kennedy coming home on a friend’s bike to complete his flawless 2014 Tour Competition crown. Myers battled all of July, and as reward, takes home the polka dot jersey. Myers and Kennedy finished equal on points, but Myers taking the competition on count back, placing ahead of Kennedy on the final stage.

In addition to his yellow jersey, Kennedy’s chase on the Power Section also gave him top points on the Power Section over Myers. Tyler Kelly failed to score a point for the second week in a row, slipping him out of the green jersey, which he cedes to Kennedy. Kelly slipped all the way to fourth, with Sovis and Myers tying for second place in the competition. Josh Zelinski winds up fifth in the competition after a strong month of riding.

The Team Competition saw one final curve ball, with City Bike unfortunately failing to finish after a mechanical knocked Zelinksi out of the running after the first lap. That moves KEEN into second for the Tour, a great showing from the newest team in Northern Michigan.

Lost amidst all the excitement might have been the consistent, tough ride of Trisha Manion, who won the Women’s GC going away, taking a 9 minute lead on Stage One and essentially ending the competition before it started. She’s set up nicely to make a run at becoming the first woman to win back-to-back Grand Tours when the Vuelta Competition starts in mid-August.

FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

Rider Stage One TIME BONUS Stage Two Stage Three Stage Four Total Time
Ryan Kennedy 0:38:32 -5″ 0:38:14 0:38:29 1:19:32 3:14:47
Keegan Myers 0:38:56 -3″ 0:38:15 0:38:31 1:19:31 3:15:13
Tyler Kelly 0:39:41 0:40:04 0:39:27 1:22:42 3:21:54
Cody Sovis 0:39:28 0:41:11 0:40:32 1:26:31 3:27:42
Jason Whittaker 0:39:30 0:41:30 0:40:57 1:26:32 3:28:29
Scott Luca 0:42:31 0:43:05 0:42:30 1:26:45 3:34:51
Lars Welton 0:42:40 0:43:15 0:42:58 1:26:45 3:35:38
Rob Goepfrich 0:42:40 0:43:25 0:42:59 1:29:42 3:38:46

FINAL SPRINT CLASSIFICATION

Rider Stage One Stage Two Stage Three Stage Four Total
Ryan Kennedy 4 20 2 10 36
Cody Sovis 6 12 10 4 32
Keegan Myers 2 16 6 8 32
Tyler Kelly 10 20 30
Josh Zelinski 16 8 2 26
Eric Grassa 6 2 4 12
Jason Whittaker 1 8 9
Ryan Kushman 8 8
Chris Kushman 8 8
Sean Kickbush 6 6
Eli Brown 4 4

FINAL MOUNTAINS CLASSIFICATION

Rider Stage One Stage Two Stage Three Stage Four Total
Keegan Myers 10 8 16 10 44
Ryan Kennedy 8 10 20 6 44
Jason Whittaker 10 10 12 4 36
Tyler Kelly 6 10 8 8 32
Eric Grassa 4 2 8 14
Cody Sovis 2 6 2 10
Josh Zelinski 4 2 6
Luke Tjosvold 6 6
Chris Kushman 4 4
Sean Kickbush 4 4
Ryan Kushman 1 1

FINAL BEST OLD RIDER CLASSIFICATION

Rider Stage One Stage Two Stage Three Stage Four Total
Scott Luca 0:42:31 0:43:05 0:42:30 1:26:45 3:34:51
Lars Welton 0:42:40 0:43:15 0:42:58 1:26:45 3:35:38
Rob Goepfrich 0:42:40 0:43:25 0:42:59 1:29:42 3:38:46

FINAL WOMEN’S CLASSIFICATION

Rider Stage One TIME BONUS Stage Two Stage Three Stage Four Total
Trisha Manion 0:51:58 0:51:11 0:48:01 0:49:25 3:20:35

FINAL TEAM CLASSIFICATION

Total
Einstein Racing

6:39:20

KEEN Tech

7:06:17