It was a smallish crowd, both in number and in average stature, with the first miniSOL and Junior SOL events of the season. It was one of those #YOUTHS, in fact, that drove what was largely a tactical opening number on the third edition of fat bike night. With Cody Sovis and John O’Hearn looking for full double points, much of the night was more of a battle by proxy. Wes Sovis lead early, setting up Cody’s move on the CC Climb to draw Jon Throop and O’Hearn clear, with Hagerty Junior Garrett Jenema easily making the selection on his 29er. The roar of the loud tires and the swiveling of heads saw Wes dangling just a few seconds behind, and after initially driving the move, Cody swung off in the hopes of letting Wes back on.
Jenema went to the front and led for a huge chunk of not only Madeleine’s but also the Power Section, with Wes slipping onto the back. Throop had been distance at Madeleine’s, and Jenema’s forcing made sure the ERSB wouldn’t get back into touch. Jenema sensed the stalemate behind, with Wes finally coming around and making a move off the front. Cody played the team game, setting a false tempo that let Wes get further and further ahead, while O’Hearn played his familiar game of brinksmanship.
It was the youngest Jenema who finally decided that the fish had been given enough line, and he started to reel in the tuna. Wes knew is only chance to stay away was to stay clear over the Boonenberg, but Jenema brought back time quickly by the Wall Bypass, and O’Hearn took over shortly before the decisive climb. Only a dropped chain saw Jenema distanced, and he’ll certainly be back next week with a SOL win on his mind.
O’Hearn caught Wes at the base of the Boonenberg, with Wes staying on the front dutifully for his teammate. A strong, steady effort brought the two principles to the base of Anita’s for a drag race up, finally seeing Wes dropped halfway up. Cody survived O’Hearn’s acceleration and stuck to his wheel on the GO! section, but it was already over. A pretty terrible sprinter, Cody was out of cards to play, and instead hoped that Wes would make it back into touch, which he did, pedaling ragged circles. Wes and O’Hearn and a brief lesson in forestry after O’Hearn tried to slide onto Cody’s wheel. If you know Wes, he doesn’t give up wheels. Cody slowed for the two to rejoin, and O’Hearn promptly trounced Cody on the final drag, with shades of the 2011 Liege-Bastogne-Liege2011 Liege-Bastogne-Liege going through the Sovis’ minds.
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The WorldTour standings are updated here.
Collin Miller takes first miniSOL win of 2017
The minis jumped straight into racing on their first night. Norte’s Colin Miller wisely used the leadout rider as a pacemaker, drilling out a steady tempo that no other rider was able to match and claiming the first mini win of the 2017 season, and doing it with rock star panache no less given that he wore sunglasses the whole way. Not far behind however was Hagerty’s Gabe Howard, who also turned in a pace well ahead of the main field to claim second. And Grady Ellis of Norte turned in the ride of his single-digit life to climb onto the podium in third! Clearly someone has been working out in the off season! Here’s the podium pic: