Owens, O’Hearn lead list of contenders with the women’s race wide open.
After a thrilling Vuelta, there remains but a single box to check on the SOL season. Tonight, the World Championships put an emphatic exclamation point on the 2017 year, with no less than three rainbow jerseys up for grabs. A Men’s, Women’s, and 45+ champion will be crowned over the final 11.5 miles of the year.
Jeff Owens has shipped his kid, Cam, off to Steamboat Springs, CO, in an effort to reduce his competition for the rainbow jersey, though the list of contenders is shorter than in seasons past. Owens was the class of the three Vuelta stages he took on, and is the odds-on favorite to cap off a stellar season tonight. His chief rivals are Vuelta runner-up John O’Hearn and Keen crusher Kyle Macdermaid. Both are solid sprinters and finishers, and if they’re in the mix with under a mile to go, they’re extremely tough to beat.
Vuelta winner Cody Sovis will be riding with hopes of a long-range move sticking somehow, lessening the workload of trade teammate Dan Ellis. While the World Championships are technically about the individual, there are plenty of favors to be paid back, with Sovis owing a half dozen riders for their cooperation this past season.
Former World Champion Ryan Kennedy is expected to be back in action, but with a marathon in his legs and just one ride under his belt, may be just missing that pep that has propelled him to a Tour win and multiple stage victories over the past four seasons. Still, if he’s on the line, he’s a solid favorite for the win.
Kent McNeil will be a darkhorse for the night. If he survives the opening salvo of climbs, he’s a smart rider with some pop, especially with a strong ride at Alma GP of Cyclocross last weekend. The legs and fitness are there, it’ll just come down for everything falling into place for the McLain rider.
Last year’s women’s winner Susan Vigland announced last week that she wouldn’t defend her crown, and with paltry female participation this fall, the winner could just be whoever shows up. It’s a great opportunity for the Schwabs, Allison Stuart, or even a new rider to take a historic win in their SOL debut.
The Norte Varsity Team has announced they’ll send a squad tonight as well, with a look at getting some more race experience before heading into their fall campaign, which kicks off with the Bear Claw Epic next weekend in Cadillac. They’ll also target Peak2Peak and of course the Iceman Cometh over the next two months.
The Speed of Light World Championships leave the split rail fence at 6:30pm promptly. We’ll have the WC recap and finalized WorldTour standings done tomorrow, putting a wrap on 2017.