The heavily-anticipated showdown for yellow never materialized, with John O’Hearn building a deck or something. Cody Sovis didn’t mess up, and his penchant for appearing at SOL has netted him three straight Grand Tours.
Chris Froome managed to get all three, but came up short at the Tour this summer. In what is a fair comparison, and thanks to other riders not showing up a few times and also not riding 21 stages in three countries against 150+ of the best riders in the world, Cody Sovis accomplished the historic (probably) and nearly impossible (not really); he now has won three Grand Tours on the trot, dating back to the Vuelta in 2017. As he waited (in vain) for the media to arrive at the Bunker Hill Lot last night, he considered how it’s changed his life. “Well, I’m not planning on having to work anymore. I think I have a lot of good people around me who will help me keep my feet planted and not let the money change me.”
On the night, the Queen Stage followed what has become the blueprint the last three years. Instead of a cautious first lap, it was a steady and cruel drag race that saw huge gaps open almost immediately. Jeff Owens, Sam Holmes, Cody Sovis, Garrett Jenema, and polka dot jersey leader Kyle Macdermaid moved clear over the Vasa CC Climb, with Dan Ellis and Wes Sovis heading up a sizeable chase group.
Over Wood Chip, Holmes applied some pressure and the gap moved open. Then it was Sovis onto the Power Section, and finally Owens took charge. They were 25 seconds faster than the chase over the sprint segement, with Garrett Jenema taking top points. Sovis and Owens also scored, but it wasn’t enough to topple the absent Josh Zelinski, who wins green.
The tough pace had seen Macdermaid dropped, and the Boonenberg saw the lead four stay together. Sovis was gapped on Anita’s but with an easing of the pace up front, he got back into the action as the leaders went out for lap two. Behind, Ellis suffered a dropped chain, and Wes Sovis made the call to wait and help preserve what was now second place on GC. The big diesel revved and got Dan back into the chase heading into the second lap.
There was little aggression on the second lap and little need for it. Owens did the bulk of the pace-setting, with Sovis and Holmes adding as necessary, while Garrett Jenema clung on like a limpet. Sovis was again shed over Anita’s, and this time, there was no coming back. Owens bounced away for a prestigious Queen Stage victory, with Holmes next through ahead of Jenema.
Without Brigit Widrig, there’s no women’s Tour winner yet again for 2018. Kudos to Susan Vigland for riding two laps anyway, and finish up with a time of 1:24. Indeed, everyone’s times were faster than expected; Owens, Holmes, and Jenema obliterated the predicted 1:20 winning time by all going under 1:15!
Kyle Macdermaid wins the Mountains classification by a full ten points over Holmes, a very impressive accomplishment considering he was laid up most of the winter and spring due to injury. JZ’s Points classification comes ahead of a strong ride from Dan Ellis, while Rob Frank wins the white jersey as Best Old Rider. A very special mention for runner-up in that competition Jeff Galsterer. Jeff showed up every week and absolutely buried himself to make a run at white, and soldiered through the Queen Stage largely solo, with most of the people he was riding with pulling off after one lap.
There is one final Grand Tour, La Vuelta, which starts in three weeks and brings us to the season finale, the World Championships. Before that, we’ve got the Team Time Trial and VST Ribbon Cutting to start August.
August 2. Team Time Trial. At Bunker Hill, like always, 6:30.
August 9. VSTTT. Supply Road Parking Lot. 6pm.
To register your three-person team for the TTT, submit your three names here. Teams must be submitted by Wednesday night.