Race leader Alex Vanias rode a more conservative SOL that in the first two weeks, but his gap still moves out.
The return of Einstein Racing’s former SOL World Champion Ryan Kennedy provided some excitement, but even “The President” was very much under wraps by the pink jersey. Riding with Saturday’s Snake Alley in mind, Alex Vanias chose to measure his efforts wherever possible on Stage Three, combining with Kennedy to break off the front and ride to an even bigger Giro lead.
With some notable non-starters, including former Giro winner Ty Schmidt, out of the GC picture, Vanias’ elbow room was always going to be ample. Second placed Cody Sovis opened affairs over the Vasa CC Climb, and after some assistance from Kennedy and Vanias, Sovis was back to the front before Madeleine’s Trail when he spotted some daylight back to the rider sitting third place on GC, Josh Zelinski.
That lead group, which included Kennedy, Vanias, Sovis, Craig Webb and Keegen Myers, split on the tail end of Madeleine’s, with Kennedy and Vanias going up the trail. Gapped initially, Sovis regained contact and went to the front on the Power Section, with Myers and Webb saving energy to make a move for results, while Sovis was more concerned with the time he could put into Zelinski. Behind, Zelinski was regrouping with McLain powerhouses Eric Grassa and Marc Brunette, with Einstein Racing’s Craig Fortuna playing the role of ticket collector.
Myer’s move came on the sand pit, with Webb marking the move but ceding the position after the Wall Bypass. Webb battled on but would call it a day after the Boonenberg, with Sovis finishing off the route solo. Grassa, Brunette and Zelinski weren’t giving up, and clawed back some time late.
Vanias made it clear this Giro would see no gifts with a late move to take the stage and push his lead out to nearly six minutes over Sovis, who came in over a minute down on the stage in fourth place. Zelinski slots into third overall after three stages, with SS leader Kyle Macdermaid now fourth. With Jason Whittaker out of the race due to illness, he needs only to finish to take the inaugural SS Grand Tour Competition.
The women’s race is in the same boat. Overwhelming leader Kaitlyn Patterson didn’t make the SOL start, and neither did Lauri Brockmiller. It leaves Heidi Jones looking to become the first two-time women’s Grand Tour winner, which she can complete by safely completing Stage Four next week.
Vanias has also wrapped up the Sprint and KOM competitions, even with Kennedy taking the double points on the Boonenberg last night. Vanias will clean up next week as long as he starts, with Sovis sitting second on the Sprint board and Kennedy now slotted second in the climber’s tally.
Rob Goepfrich will also take the Best Old Rider award with another strong ride next week. He’s been Mr. Consistent in May, and looks cleared to take the win with a ten minute buffer over Keith Conway.
Einstein Racing has put the universe back in order with an aggressive and deep performance over the past two weeks in the Team Competition. Over a minute down after Stage One, they’ve combined with Sovis, Nate St. Onge, Luke Tjosvold and now Ryan Kennedy to build a lead of 19 minutes over City Bike, with Hagerty Cycling threatening in third four minutes back in third place.
Next week is the Giro Finale, and with everything all but decided, there’s no reason not to ride aggressive. We should see a very exciting fourth stage, and the party should start for Vanias in the parking lot. The traditional Giro grill-out is already in the works, with beer, hot dogs and chips waiting riders at Bunker Hill.
You can see the full Giro picture here.