Old Man Power. Three-time World Champion Erwin Vervecken (Revor Baboco) used his wiles to claim victory in Sun Prairie Wisconsin on Sunday, the second and final day of Planet Bike Cup, the first weekend of the USGP. The Belgian sat on the leaders throughout the race, seemingly in trouble as he yo-yoed behind US Cross Champ Ryan Trebon (KONA) and Planet Bike’s Jonathan Page until the final lap when, after Page was hit by another mechanical, Vervecken was able to drop Trebon.
“I was surprised,” replied Vervecken when asked if he was surprised about his victory. “I didn’t think of getting Jonathan behind me but when he got his mechanical problem and then Ryan, I know he’s also tall and technically if I really take risks, I can take a few meters and that’s what happened.”
“He’s kind of renowned for the last two laps he’s good, he’s old, he’s got a lot of old man power left. That’s true, this old man’s strength, [remember] wrestling with your dad.” Trebon added with a smile. “He’s a good finisher, it happens.”
Aggression. “I was still pissed off from yesterday and now I’m really pissed off.” said Page after the race when asked about starting off aggressively.
Still smarting from yesterday’s race, Page attacked early with Canadian Cross Champ Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) on his wheel. The chase was on as the two opened an early lead on Vervecken. Trebon bridged across to Vervecken and the two were able to bring back the strong and aggressive Page. As Kabush faded back to fourth, the trio of Vervecken, Page and Trebon surged away from the rest of the chasing field.
“I was a little slow of the line, I was probably tenth or fifteenth, pretty far back. It took me about a lap to two laps to get back to the front.” said Trebon. “Jon already had a gap and I had to close at least 10, 15 seconds time. I got to him and it was just me, Jon and Erwin together for the rest of the race. You race these guys most of the time and I know that if I feel good I can put it to the guys I race regularly in the last couple of laps but these guys, shit they’re both really strong, and you can’t really force them into making too many mistakes, I didn’t know what I was going to do out there.”
Behind them, after some re-shuffling USGP leader and yesterday’s winner Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) joined forces with his teammate Jamey Driscoll and Swiss Cross Champ Christian Heule to try and reduce the gap.
Greasy to dry. Not only was the course modified from the previous day with the additions of tighter corners and a modification of the runup which added an extra minute per lap, but the weather conditions also changed as a rain downpour hit just before the start of the men’s race. But then the track started to dry off.
“When we started it was nice and greasy. Lots of guys were having trouble man, just sliding out in turns. I was taking it pretty easy on the first lap because I didn’t pre-ride it when it was wet and I wanted to find out what the limit was that we could go through these turns. It was nice when it was greasy, me and Jon definitely had an advantage over Erwin because he was running normal profile tires but as the track dried up, he could keep us with us through the turns, having nodular tires wasn’t a great advantage. The course was just too fast to switch to a dry tire, I was stuck with what we had It’s not that they are that much slower, but it’s a little bit, each watt counts if you had them up over 10 laps. ” said Trebon.
The finale. As Page and Trebon alternated attacks, Vervecken would fall behind by several bike lengths before chasing back to the two leaders. It looked as if Vervecken was being dropped for good but the duo sat up, and the Belgian was able to catch back on and recover.
“They were always riding very fast together. They are strong technically in the corners, I made a lot of small mistakes where I lost five meters here, five meters there and I always had to come back. For the last two, three laps they didn’t ride anymore, then I could recover. Normally in the last lap I am always very fast, I can ride a really fast last lap if I am not dead like yesterday.” said Vervecken.
“I was talking to Jon afterwards. I was really forcing the pace and we were getting a gap on Erwin, I was like ‘I’m not going to tow Jonathan around the whole time’ and I was asking him to come through and I think he said he was kind of on the limit as well so he didn’t want to put too much into it and Erwin just came back to us.” explained Trebon. “That’s where the race was kind of lost, it happens.”
For the last three laps of the race the three rode together until once again, this time on the final lap, Page suffered rolled tires which made him fall behind the duo. Vervecken then made his move and was able to get and hold a gap from Trebon for the win.
“Vervecken went to the front and I was sitting on his wheel. We went through this windy turn, I don’t know what he [Page] hit but it popped his rear tire off, and then Erwin was just going. My back was starting to get kind of tight, I was feeling it with three laps to go, ‘I’ll just hang on’, he started going and I was going as hard as I could and I just couldn’t close it. He’s strong, it’s no shame to losing to Erwin.” commented Trebon. No shame at all.
Page came in third followed by Kabush in fourth. Heule won the sprint for fifth ahead of Powers. Vervecken also claimed the USGP Series Leader’s jersey.
Planet Bike’s Tristan Schouten claimed the SRAM Most Aggressive Rider prize for his impressive ride up through the field to finish 8th despite his start position of 54.
“Mostly on the wet corners early on in the race, I went around guys on the outside, moved up pretty quick.” explained Schouten. “From there, tacked on the back of the group moving forwards.”
In the U23 Men’s competition, raced with the Men’s Elite, Chance Noble (CalGiant) held off his competitors to finish 15th overall, and first in the 23 category, with Dave Hackworthy (Ridley) one step behind him in 16th. Third spot went to Joseph Schmalz (KCCX/Verge).
The Compton Show. In the Elite Women’s race, Planet Bike’s Katie Compton once again put on an amazing display of power to claim her second victory in as many days. Changing tactics from previous races, LUNA’s Katerina Nash attacked Compton and briefly took the lead before Compton chased her down and powered away to a solo win of her own.
“I just wanted to race a different race than last two races where I was sitting in Katie’s wheel all the time until the wheel was gone. I tried a different strategy but it didn’t seem to work again.” said Nash.
“Katie brings it, she’s the strongest out of this week, the season is ahead, I was glad Katie race in the US. For us it’s great to see how fast she can go, we’ll duke it out next time again.” continued Nash.
A charging Nash finished second and LUNA teammate Georgia Gould came in third. The battle for fourth was fierce as Alison Sydor (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) sat on Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale) for the whole race but Butler was able to drop her in the final meters.
“No one was working together and I was pulling Alison around the course. I knew she was going to get by me so I tried to stay ahead of her. My pedal came out but I still managed to finish in the sprint ahead of her. I scared myself a little bit there.” said Butler.
LUNA’s recently un-retired champion Alison Dunlap claimed the SRAM Most Aggressive Rider prize.
“I felt like a bike racer out there but it was still pretty hard. Today was good for my confidence, I had a lot of fun.” said Dunlap who has been fighting an illness all week.
What’s next? The overall is still wide open as neither Vervecken nor Compton will race at future USGP events. The next event in the USGP is The Derby City Cup in Louisville KY on October 24-25. But of course, there are a lot more cross races before then, see USA Cycling Cross calendar.
Compton will still race in the US however, as she focuses on World Cups and the World Championships. “I’m going to the World Cup in Italy next weekend, I fly back to Ohio to do the three cross races in Cincinnati. From there, I have a couple of weeks training block before I head to Belgium back to the World Cups, World Cup overall, World Championships in January and of course Nationals.”
Complete results here
Gallery (Click for larger images)
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Elite and U23 Men
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