Jorden Wakeley takes the World Championship after a four-way battle for supremacy.
It was never certain, but always likely. Defending World Champion Ryan Kennedy entered with his eyes peeled for the arrival of one other rider, and he showed. Jorden Wakeley made a second straight SOL appearance, this time to try his hand at a World Championship.
With the Rock Road 50/50 on deck, it was a small but high-caliber lead group, spearheaded by the big names of Wakeley, Kennedy, Sean Kickbush and Keegan Myers. Indeed, after an on-coming rider closed the door for a chasing Cody Sovis to get hitch back onto the tail of that quartet, it was going to be an intimate, small selection. With Sovis out of the picture two miles in, the foursome had almost the entire course with which to do battle.
Kickbush and Myers have spent much of the SOL season reaffirming their status as Elite racers, and the final SOL of the season was another fine example. The pair attacked and countered with the best of the best, stretching gaps and chasing down a pair of moves from Wakeley early. Tellingly, it was Kickbush who went to the front after a Wakeley attack early, a show of form that bodes well for the Rock Road on Sunday.
If Kickbush and Myers showed their improved strength, it was Kennedy who showed a newly developed head for tactics. He lingered early, putting in a few turns up front but saving his aces for late in the game. A big attack on the Hill on Iceman Course broke the M-22 riders and put Wakeley into difficulty, but once back on the wheel, it was always going to be tough for Kennedy to win in a sprint. He chose to stay on the gas and keep the gap open back to Myers and Kickbush, hoping for a bit of luck in the dash to the line.
But it would take more than luck, and Wakeley handled the finale with the ease and confidence of a rider with his pedigree and experience. The win gives him the rainbow jersey for 2015, and a full head of steam heading into a slew of fall races with star-studded rivals in the line, only the first of which includes Mike Simonson and Aaron Beebe at the Rock Road 50/50. He’ll then take on Michigan Mountain Mayhem’s Gravel Grinder on October 4, followed by Peak2Peak and Crystal Cross in mid-October. It’s a busy run-in to the Iceman, but he certainly has the form to finish off this fall with some big victories.
The WorldTour Series ends with Cody Sovis as the winner. “I am good at showing up. I don’t have that much else going on, so…”he said in a post-race presser. “If anyone wants to do anything next Thursday, maybe work on a puzzle or knit sweaters, yeah, I’m free.”
Ryan Kennedy’s second place finish nudged him past teammate Jason Whittaker for second on the WorldTour, giving Einstein Racing the podium for the season-long points competition. Double Grand Tour winner Ty Schmidt slots in fourth, with Rob Goepfrich giving Einstein Racing four in the top five.
World Championship Results are available here.
Final WorldTour Series Standings available here.