Then Stroupe stepped up. The North Carolina resident, who had plenty of supporters in the crowd, grabbed the early lead right in front of Pourcel and simply checked out. By the halfway mark he had a lead of nearly five seconds, and it looked like Stroupe was making a statement. Pourcel got quicker as the laps clicked off and began matching Stroupe’s times, but Stroupe’s lead looked big enough to last to the finish, signaling a major turnaround between the two.
Then Stroupe stalled it unexpectedly. The momentum changed back even faster.
Pourcel sailed on to another win. Stroupe lost so much time trying to restart his bike that he could only muster a seventh, and he now sits 18 points behind his teammate after just two races. Now, even if Stroupe can prove himself to be the faster of the two teammates, it might not be enough to claim the championship, and that’s the measurement that matters most.