Mountain Time Trial Shuffles GC Battle
By Briggs Heaney
Photos by Larry Rosa

The Mighty Tour de Nez stage race continued Thursday morning, with a 2.75 mile mountain time trial at the Northstar at Tahoe resort. Seventy three riders took to the line for the first of two stages on the day, the second being the evening criterium in downtown Truckee in the evening. Riders were sent off in thirty second intervals as the battle for the overall title began in earnest, and the time trial shuffled the order of the general classification.

Some of the riders were worried about the steep grades that they would face, but were pleasantly surprised about how the course unfolded for them. Roman Kilun of the Health Net squad explained, "I was a bit worried when I was warming up on the course. I thought it would be really tough, but it wasn't so bad once I got up to speed." Others however were not so happy, including Symmetric's Eric Wohlberg. When asked how his ride went, the Canadian replied with a sarcastic "Wonderful!" He dropped 52 seconds on the day, and now sits in 20th place overall.

In the end, it was Ian McKissick who was able to post the best time, finishing ahead of Health Net's tandem of Matthew Cooke and Corey Collier. In the battle for the GC, McKissick takes the lead ahead of the Health Net tandem by 17 seconds. Other notable names still in the hunt are Andrew Bajadali (18 seconds), Scott Nydam (19 seconds), Burke Swindlehurst (20 seconds), Justin England (23 seconds), and Steven Cozza (24 seconds).

In the jersey competitions, McKissick takes both the overall and climber's jersey, while yesterday's overall leader Steven Howard will trade in his red leader's jersey for the green points jersey signifying the best sprinter in the race. The new top U-23 rider will be Rock Racing's Adam Switters, who came in only 42 seconds off the winning pace set by McKissick, and now sits in 15th place overall. Bissell's Steven Howard drops into second place at 18 seconds behind Switters in the U-23 competition. The purple climber's jersey goes to Matt Cooke of the Health Net team, and he'll hold the jersey through the criterium and into tomorrow's decisive road circuit race.

Attention will now shift to tonight's downtown criterium in Truckee, where the sprinters will once again have an opportunity to contend for a stage win. Expect the usual suspects to be at the front, including last year's winner Alex Candelario of the Kelly Benefits Strategies/Medifast team, Taylor Tolleson of the BMC squad, and Ricardo Escuela of the Successful Living team. Also keep an eye out for the Reno winner Steven Howard of the Bissell squad, as he tries to take both criterium races in the Tour de Nez race.