tumblr_o2icmbpBun1qi7lhio1_540

The second race of the 2016 Series, with two familiar faces on the top steps as we hit the halfway mark. Jorden Wakeley and Danielle Musto kept their feet on the proverbial throats of their competitors at a Vasa race that was an acid-trip flashback of Fat Chance! a week ago. The plot lines were largely the same; Wakeley and Musto gets leads, hold leads, and win, while the races behind turned inward.

Conditions a year on from the frigid snowpacalypse of 2015 were, as always. relative. No one was disappointed to see some sun peaking through the clouds at the start, where a quick Garmin poll said it was 7 degrees without wind chill. The countdown and the go brought out the traditional Vasa start lap, with Jorden Wakeley and then Cody Sovis on the front an lining out the full 33km field that inched near 100 riders by day’s end.

Sovis was the last to let go of Wakeley’s wheel as they neared the Supply Road Parking Lot, with the Quiring Cycling rider giving one last glimpse back as he rounded the into Riley’s Loop and galloped off for the afternoon. Sovis slipped back to the front of the chase group, a position he would maintain for most of the afternoon, setting a tough tempo to help teammate Ryan Kennedy move Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing as far up the Series standings as possible.

The chase group was largely contented with an inevitable race for second, queued in sort of roll call that remained unchanged nearly the rest of the race; Sovis bent over the bars on the front, with Hagerty’s Craig Webb next, followed by Kennedy, M-22’s Keegan Myers, and Webb’s teammate Nick Wierzba playing ticket collector.

Behind, Musto had slotted through the early traffic to build a tenuous lead over Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing’s Liz Belt, who was down an important ally in Stephanie Baklarz, out due to illness. Always in the picture, the tireless Susan Vigland bounced along in her pursuit of a second SkiFatathalon title after skiing 27km in the morning. She held on with Belt until the bitter end, taking first in her Master’s category ahead of Cindy Duby, Marci Bultemeir and new Women’s Master’s points leader Birgit Yetter.

Webb, meanwhile, was safe in his Master’s category lead in the chase group, while teammate Hal BeVier was making amends for a difficult outing at Fat Chance! Aboard a lighter rig and on a course that suited his engine, BeVier was in a solid chase group that included the Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing duo of Craig Fortuna and Jon Throop, as well as McLain’s Kris Sands and Nathan Kark. With Webb well gone, BeVier scooted in for second, with the hobbit-named Hugh “of” Smallwood third ahead of Keith Conway and Rob Goepfrich. (Rob, your jacket is in my car, I’ll bring it to the shop).

It was again a bunch sprint for the Men’s race, albeit for a somewhat distant second place. Wakeley had enough time to do the finish stretch wrong and roll lazily across the line before the chasers were even into Timber Ridge. Webb brought them rolling to the final bend, but no one except Sovis was certain where it was. Webb hesitated for an early turn, and it was enough to ruin his chances. Just on the final left, Sovis started the sprint from a long ways out, with Weirzba charging hard on the barriers to challenge ahead of Kennedy and Myers. Neither rider knew who had slid home second until they got to the results sheet.

Myers did slid ahead of Kennedy on the line, which means the pair are even on points after two races, with Myers ahead on the sheet on countback.

Both Musto and Wakeley will have solid leads after points are confirmed in 24 hours, although none of the categories are locked up. With neither Musto or Wakeley planning on finishing the Series, and the Men’s Master’s almost unrecognizable compared to the results from Fat Chance!, next Sunday could be the most important day of the Series for 2016.

Full results are available here.

Check out most of the Strava file here.

Sign up for February 21’s The Vineyard Race here.