Ryan Kennedy has a big week ahead, and the first test comes Thursday as he tries to defend his rainbow jersey.
You’re going to see a lot of firepower in the next six days, with the Speed of Light finale kicking off affairs this week. The World Championship draws the curtain on the year-long Speed of Light Ride, which saw over 200 individuals take on the 12.5 mile loop this summer since it kicked off with the Giro Competition in May.
Ryan Kennedy took the stripes last year, and has enjoyed the honor of wearing the World Champion’s jersey all of 2014. It’s an point of pride to keep the jersey in the team, and Kennedy returns as Einstein’s top option to retain the title. He is showing some solid form, though his third place finish in the Vuelta finale last week has raised some questions about his ability to outsprint the likes of Sean Kickbush or Keegan Myers if they can stay with him to the line.
He still enters as the favorite, barring an appearance from Jorden Wakeley, but there are a lot of riders that have claim to the jersey. Kickbush and Myers have been ever-present, but they’ll need to ride immaculately to take the victory, and perhaps even decide who will get to win and perhaps who will have to sacrifices their own chances.
Behind the M-22 duo, Craig Webb could reappear armed with Steve Andriese and Hal BeVier, both of whom having put in some stellar efforts this summer. KEEN, too, has some firepower, including Eli Brown and Mike Powers, two solid picks for being present and correct as the race leaves the selective Power Section.
The only rider to win three Grand Tours, and two in one season, Ty Schmidt should never be counted out, although he’s found it tough to match the pace of the lead group consistently in the past few weeks. If there’s any indecision early Thursday, he’ll be hanging around and always dangerous late.
The year-long WorldTour Series is already wrapped up, with Cody Sovis taking the title after finishing every single Speed of Light in 2014, the only rider to show up each time. Kennedy, Schmidt, and Myers will be jockeying for a top three finish on points, with 30 points available to the winner, -1 to the top 30.
The World Championship is a much shorter prelude to the Rock Road 50/50, which will see many of the same faces battling for the inaugural victory on Sunday. They’ll be joined by Jorden Wakeley and Mike Simonson, plus plenty of others, for a 50 mile drag race of trail, gravel roads and cruel, sharp ascents that dot the course riders have already called an absolute killer.