Under the flashing lights and velvet tapestries of Milan, the 2016 Speed of Light schedule was unveiled with its traditional pomp and circumstance. All of the SOL heroes and heroines were on hand, swapping spandex for tux and tails, and even the stray top hat, as the hushed throngs of contenders watched a preview of the 2016 season as its organizers dream it to be.
As has become the tradition way of things, the first Speed of Light with be the first Thursday after Mud, Sweat and Beers, and serves as Stage One of the 2016 Giro Competition. May 12 will see the opening salvos of the fight for the maglia rosa, won last year in convincing style by Alex Vanias. Indeed, it was Vanias and better half Kaitlyn Patterson who dominated SOL from May through August, and they'll be heavy favorites once again.
The Giro Competition will run from May 12 until June 2, when a winner will be decided after four grueling weeks of racing for not only the overall win, but the Sprint, KOM, Women's and SS titles as well. It'll be the first look at a revamped WorldTour, which has been won twice on the trot by Cody Sovis due to sheer lack of other stuff to do on Thursday nights. The Grand Tours are worth less, while stage wins are worth points for the first time, to the tune of 20 points to the winner, -1 through the top 20.
June sees the return of four Classics events, worth 20 points to the winner, -1 through the top 20, with double points on offer for the themed ride. June 9 is Fat Bike Night, June 16 is Singlespeed Night, June 23 is Cyclocross Night, and June 30 is Ladies' Night.
July brings the biggest SOL event of the summer, the Tour Competition. Expect well over 50 riders for Stage One on July 7, lasting four consecutive weeks. The Queen Stage, the infamous double lap of the SOL course, coming as the last stage this year on July 28.
We'll take our traditional week off on August 18 this year, with the 11th a reprisal of last year's Team Time Trial, which scores the fastest times of Einstein Racing-Short's Brewing, Hagerty Cycling, McLain Race Team, City Bike Shop, and any other formation willing to toe the line.
The Vuelta Competition is the final Grand Tour of 2016, with three weeks of racing leading into the Speed of Light World Championships, which will wrap up the season on September 15. Last year's winner, Luke Tjosvold, will proudly wear the World Champion's rainbow bands from May through September, where he'll try to retain the title.
Speed of Light leaves Ec at 6:30pm every Thursday from May-August, and 6:15 in September. You can also meet us in the Bunker Hill Parking Lot at 6:45. The course is roughly 12 miles that incorporates the Vasa 25km Pathway. It's fast ride that's open to anyone who wants to give it a shot, get better, and enjoy some charming company. You can see the 2015 course here.