Wakeley holds the lead with just one stage left of the Vuelta. He’s on his way to his first Grand Tour victory, with only 11.5 miles to control against a resilient Jeff Owens. Cam Owens, sitting in third place, will make his final SOL appearance and will do so with the weight of the Mountains and Sprint classification leads on his shoulders. Cam could should be able to hold both, with Papa Jeff the closest on both, although Wakeley could upset the apple cart.
As so often happens at the Vuelta, attentions turn to other interests, and the GC picture shrinks in stature to tying up loose ends before the end of the year. For Wakeley, the GC win would be a long-awaited box checked. For other riders, it’s more about ticking off other things. Einstein Racing-Short’s Brewing is calling all available hands to get Wes Sovis under 40 minutes before the end of the season, and this may be the last best chance to do it.
Kyle Macdermaid and his KEEN teammate Jeff Owens may not have as much GC interest in the finale, but they can still make a dent in the Team Competition, where they sit behind M-22. Hagerty Cycling should be able to hold third there, in large part due to the tough riding of the younger Owens and Susan Vigland, who sits well ahead on the women’s GC. Vigland has been on the form of her life this summer, and even an off-day last week saw her maintain her lead on GC and still put down a solid time in loose, sandy and slow conditions.
With Rob Frank confirmed to miss the finale, the Tour’s Best Old Rider winner Rob Goepfrich should take the win, with teammate Lars Welton looking to slot in second. After knocking on the door so long, Goepfrich has found himself the dominate force of the aged this summer, although he’ll be up against it for the Master’s World Champ category next week, with Steve Lagerquist looking to be nearly back to fighting fitness after a slew of injuries in July and August.
More than a few eyes are turned toward next week’s World Championships. After skipping the Vuelta, defending World Champion Luke Tjosvold has confirmed he’ll mount a title defense, but there would be few to argue that there is any favorite aside from Wakeley, should he make an appearance on September 15. Susan Vigland will enter with Marianne Voss-like deference on the women’s side, while we track a Best Old Rider winner (over 50) and a U-23 Champion as well.
A reminder that both of the final SOLs will leave Ec at 6.15pm, or you can meet at the Bunker Hill Parking Lot at 6.30pm. If you’re riding home, make sure you have a light on! Because safety, guys. It’s good.