The UCI men started at 9:15 to tackle the challenging individual time trial. It’s an out and back course that begins with a Cat 4 climb and on the return leg features a Cat 3 climb. It’s not your typical ITT course but fortunately the riders didn’t have to contend with the wind that has been the norm over the last few years.
Times were fast and tightly packed together from the first riders, but everyone was waiting for the time of national TT champ, Tom Zirbel of Optum, and he delivered. Best times up to that point were in the mid 36 min range but Zirbel came in with 34:21, blowing the race apart. That seemed to be the benchmark that wouldn’t be matched but Serghei Tvetchov of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, came in with a time of 34:02 and no one challenged his time. Joseph Rosskopf of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, finished 3rd with a time if 35:12.
The men’s GC underwent a shuffling as Carter Jones of Optum took the leaders jersey after a solid TT performance. “Yeah, the team is very happy and ready to defend the jersey. Tomorrow we need to stay out of trouble and get ready for Sunday. I feel good but there’s no hiding on the Gila Monster.” With the GC being so tight, Sundays stage should be very interesting.
The women started next and conditions remained calm for their TT. The women’s field had been controlled by United HealthCare over the the last two days but today the rest of the field would be free to try to shake things up. Laura Brown of Colavita came in with a blazing time of 39:25. Lauren Stephens of TIBCO, who had won the Redlands TT earlier in the season, came in with a fast time of 39:29. It was another strong performance from Stephens, who was very happy after the race, “Last August I was able to go full time racing. It’s made a big difference. I said after Redlands that it was the best ride I’d ever had, but today was even better.” Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Mara Abbott’s 3rd place ride, with a time of 39:30.
Tomorrow is the downtown crit ,which is always an exciting event, but truly the men and women will be working on recovery, to get ready for Sundays stage. The women will have a difficult time overtaking Abbott, due to her climbing prowess, but these are racers and they won’t go down without a fight. The men’s race is still wide open and it may come down to who has the freshest legs on the day.