The Youth Movement continues into the Tour, with Braiden Voss and Garrett Jenema putting the old boys to the sword on a beautiful night in the woods. The anticipated storm moved through by 5:30, and as the riders signed on for the first stage of the Tour Competition. It was a simply perfect night for SOL, and the first that really felt like Speed of Light proper in some weeks.
WorldTour leaders John O’Hearn and Cody Sovis lined up next to former Tour winner Ryan Kennedy, and the two youngsters on flying form, Braiden Voss and Garrett Jenema. Kyle Macdermaid, Chris Klau, Dan Ellis, Jaden Drews, and Jeff Galsterer nosed up near the front, with Galsterer keeping a keen eye and sharp elbow pointed at Best Old Rider rival Lars Welton.
Only Emma Schwab started on the women’s side, and we’re all rooting for her to finish the Tour and end the streak of a women’s winnerless Tour of seasons past.
On the gun, it was a familiar Sovis taking the peloton into the first turn at 25mph, with a dozen riders present and correct over the Vasa CC Climb. Kennedy took up the pacemaking past Land’s End, with Sovis back to the front for Madeleiene’s. On Mount Gary, Kennedy pressed (he’s DQ’d now) his way past Macdermaid to go to the front and drive a stake in the chances of the dangling duo of Klau and Ellis, with Jenema clawing (that’s a total DQ) his way onto Sovis’ wheel at the start of the Power Section and successfully bridging back up.
It was selection made, and with the elder statesmen doing the work. Sovis, Kennedy, and Macdermaid all made appearances on the front, with Sovis twice offering up moves to try to split the group. O’Hearn brought the group to the Rock, with Sovis annoyingly back to the front (DQ!) to look for full Sprint points.
Kennedy pounced before the Saarlock pit and put the squeeze on Sovis and Jenema at the back, then pressing even harder onto the base of the KOM climb for the Tour, the Boonenberg. Voss took full points, but Kennedy’s pressing changed the face of the Tour; it distanced Sovis, and over the top O’Hearn popped. He was slowed to a limp going past the 10km turnoff, with Sovis scrambling past and making contact with Voss, Jenema, Macdermaid and Kennedy. Voss wisely tried to keep the gap open, and led the way to the base of Anita’s.
A spilling descent saw a four up sprint on Anita’s with Sovis slipping a pedal and struggling up the climb, watching the yellow jersey contenders gain 30 seconds. Kennedy pressed, then Jenema attacked. Only a calm and collected Kennedy saw the group back, offering up a killer move from Macdermaid, and it looked as though he may have it. On the final climb, however, Voss bounced even and pulled ahead, barely staying clear of Macdermaid, with Jenema an extremely close third and Kennedy next through.
The win puts Voss into yellow and hands him 5 extra seconds. Dermaid and Jenema grab 3 and 1 second extra, giving them some breathing room on Kennedy and the more distant Sovis.
Sovis and Jenema split the green jersey points, with Jenema getting the green jersey for Stage Two on countback. Voss also holds the Mountains classification, although he’ll have a hard time defending both, especially with the extremely punchy O’Hearn out of the GC picture…for now.
Rob Frank leads the Best Old Rider classification, followed by Lars Welton just a single second over Jeff Galster and Jason Stuart. That is always a thrilling race to watch, and by the Queen Stage, both Welton and Galsterer will likely be calling on teammates to help them in the fight for white and make up some time on Frank, who looks to be running away with this after one.
Voss and Jenema have also handed Hagerty a massive lead in the Team Competition, going on four minutes after a single stage, with Sovis and Ellis putting kolo t.c. in second. ERSB is anotheer 1:57 behind, and unless something incredible happens, Hagerty should have this all wrapped up after next week.
And it’s on Stage Two that the green jersey may well be decided, with double points on offer and a host of riders far enough down on GC that they’ll be willing to gamble for the green jersey. For riders that didn’t start this week, it’s a big opportunity to get in the race, with 20 points on offer for the only time in this Tour for the sprinters.
Voss and Jenema now have an odd and exciting parallel to the current Tour in France. Like Chris Froome and Gertaint Thomas, one will likely have to give up their dreams of maillot jaune in order to protect the other. If Kennedy or Macdermaid, or even Sovis and O’Hearn, they’ll get no help chasing next week, with none of these riders content to ride for a podium place. Can the youths’ brawn compete with the wiley tricks and experience of the older riders? We’ll see.
2017 Junior and miniSOL Tour Competition
By Peter Worden
An angry red blob appeared on doppler radar over Lake Michigan late afternoon and bore down heavily on the SOL course as race time approached. Suddenly the weather forecasters, proving to be more skittish than a certain race jury, jacked the chance of thunderstorms up to over 60% and every indication was that SOL was going to be faced with its second weather cancellation this season. But Race Director Cody Sovis leveled a steady gaze at the forecast and, summoning the spirit of Henri Desgrange himself, decreed that the rain would pass by the race start. And so it was; the rain was done by 5:30, the sun came out, and suddenly the chance of precipitation dropped back down to 15%. Those who kept the faith raced under sunny skies in near perfect temperatures, on a trail made smooth and fast by the rain, and got to enjoy some spectacularly exciting racing.
Eight racers in total toed the line in the JuniorSOL race, which follows the same SOL course as the “adult” race but starts about a minute after the adults. Four riders — RBS’ Hunter Frank, Norte’s Luke Wiersema, and Hagerty’s Griffin Schwab and Peter B. Worden, III — broke away early. and quickly began to overtake the back end of the adult group. Hunter put in a strong attack on Icebreaker but was reeled back in by the other three. The four rolled through Madeline’s and the Power Section, and on through the Wall Bypass, with Luke Wiersema occasionally probing with an attack but by and large staying together.
As the group approached the base of Anita’s, Hunter and Peter opened a small gap on Luke and Griffin; and then going up Anita’s, P3’s status as a local paid off. Hunter, taking on Anita’s in a race situation for the first time ever, went down. Peter quickly pounced, sprinting up and over the top of the climb. With Griffin and Luke unable to close the gap, P3 sailed on to the stage win and claim the first yellow jersey of the 2017 Junior Tour. Griffin and Hunter came in just a second apart to fill out the podium.
Meanwhile, in the women’s race, the Jean sisters were the only ones to show so — so long as they finish each stage of the Tour — they are guaranteed a place on the podium in Paris. They finished stage one essentially neck and neck and they are just going to have to have a family meeting to decide which one of them is going to be the Tour champion min 2017.