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As the X100 looms large, it was a small group on the line for Stage Two of the Vuelta. A massive amounts of DNS and DNFs have left the Vuelta looking scant after two stages. Race leader Ryan Kennedy bowed out due to illness, with the X100 relay on the horizon as well. A half dozen GC contenders either didn’t start or dropped out, including Austin Johnson, Jason Whittaker and Craig Fortuna. Women’s leader Susan Vigland opted to ride recon instead of SOL, while even getting a ride in was tough for top five placed ride Luke Tjosvold. Luke crashed and broke his handlebar leaving the parking lot, knocking him out of the GC.

With lots of different interests and intentions, it was a great night to move up. Last place on a borrowed bike last week, Cody Sovis took the stage by two and a half minutes, testing out road gearing on his Cherry-Roubaix winning Focus Mares. The time wasn’t overly impressive, but behind, the bulk of the field was more concerned with saving their legs. Over 10 minutes down after last week, Sovis moves into third overall and into the lead of the Sprint competition.

It was also the first Speed of Light appearance of Wes Sovis for the first time in over a year. He marked the occasion with a solid top five finish, despite have to stop twice to confirm he was still on course. It’s a good sign for the Einstein Racing diesel as he builds back into form heading into fall.

Kyle Macdermaid’s only effort of the evening came with demonstrative effect over the Vasa CC Climb, where he easily took full points and extended his lead in the KOM Competition. Macdermaid is looking to take the KOM and SS categories, which could give him a solid boost in the WorldTour standings. With double points again on offer for the KOM on Stage Three, the return of Ryan Kennedy could be the only true challenge.

For the first time, no Best Old Rider competitor will finish, with the Women’s Competition now without a finisher for the third time in its history.

Lowetz’s second place is a solid sign ahead of his X100 attempt this Saturday, and he’s vowed to defend his red jersey for the remainder. Armed with the support of Sovis, Kennedy and Tjsovold, he should be able to hold off a flying Macdermaid, who now sits just over three minutes down on the general classification.

Two stages remain, and riders will likely use the next two weeks to experiment and test their legs heading into the World Championships on September 24. All SOLs for the rest of the year will leave Ec at 6.15pm, or 6.30pm from the Bunker Hill lot.