The first WorldTour night of the year kicked off Thursday, and boy, aren’t fat bikes great?One of the largest fat bikes field to date toed the line, and there was much rear tire pinching as riders looked to others for the perfect pressure for four inch tires. It was an eclectic mix on the line, including a fair number of Bearclaw Bicycle Co. Balthazars under the Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing crew, as well as some steel framed Pugsleys, aluminum Mukluks and various #SWORKS rigs as well.
The opening salvos came on the Vasa CC Climb, with Cody Sovis on the front until ceding pacemaking duties to the always-up-for-it Josh Zelinski. It was a combination of that pair, with JZ taking on the majority of the Power Section, that broke up a sizable lead pack rider by rider. Team OAM-Now’s power couple (what nerdy babies they’ll make) Alex Vanias and Kaitlyn Patterson were always tucked in safely and in the right position.
It was Sovis back to the front into the Iceman Bypass, and the short dose of singletrack and sharp climb after as a chaser whittled the group to five, although it was the last time Sovis would see the front. Onto the Boonenberg and it was Vanias and Patterson setting the pace, not just on the climb but over the top, forcing the the other survivors to scramble to the wheel. It was Zelinski, Sovis and an absolutely flying John O’Hearn in with a shout late, with O’Hearn looking the second most spritely behind Vanias and Sovis, the only fat bike in the lead group, busting a proverbial gut to stay on.
Behind, Craig Webb and Ryan Kennedy were dueling all of the way for the runner-up fat bike spot. Webb was the fastest fat bike in 2015, and he emptied the tank to stay in touch to retain his title. Kennedy timed his efforts well and came home second on wide tires. Webb, Kyle Macdermaid and Chad Jordan rounded out the top five fat bikes, with Susan Vigland just ahead of Lauri Brockmiller for the fastest fat bike women.
The double-points move Sovis into the WorldTour lead, although he’ll be hard-pressed to keep it at Singlespeed next week with the return of the M22 squad and some other heavy-hitters. Patterson’s third place last night makes her the highest place woman in 12th, but it’s the lurking M-22 riders-Matt and Keegan Myers, Sean Kickbush- that sit in the top ten and have the speed to make up ground. Vanias sits second overall on points and is a favorite at the points-heavy Tour come July.
You can see the Speed of Light times and results here.
The current WorldTour standings are here.