Well they did it again. On a completely different course, with completely different weather conditions, Katie Compton (Planet Bike) and Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) won again at day 2 of the Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival, the Java Johnny’s – Lionhearts International, in Middletown, Ohio.
While yesterday’s race was a mudfest with off camber straights, today brought sun and a fast course in Sunset Park, a neighborhood park was transformed into a cross race with lots of tight turns, few straights of even moderate length, a sandpit and a plank barrier section.
As she did yesterday, Sue Butler (Monavie/Cannondale) out-gunned National Champion Compton at the start of the race but Compton passed her before the up-and-back sandpit set up in a beach volleyball section about one-minute into the race.
“Sue had a really good start, she started pretty fast, faster than I wanted to go and then I think in the sandpit, I just hit the gas and she stayed with me for about half lap or so and then I slowly gapped her.” said Compton.
While Butler rode through that section with no difficulty, Compton just flew or should I say glided on the sand, demonstrating another skill that she wanted to practice before returning to race in Europe.
“You just have to attack the stand with speed and try to ride as straight as you can to get through it. Just pretty much power and carrying as much speed as you can.” explained Compton.
And that was all she wrote, as once again, Compton powered away from everybody. Riding solo in the second spot was Butler who kept a steady pace to keep a solid gap to the chasing trio behind her.
The battle for third was a 2-on-1 affair as the chase trio included two riders from C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, Laura Van Gilder and Deirdre Winfield and Babara Howe of Vanderkitten.
“Obviously Barb Howe is riding really well, DeeDee had a super ride yesterday and to be together with her was just awesome, it really put Barb on the defensive and we could ride offensively for the final podium spot. ” said Van Gilder.
The trio stayed together almost the entire race, with Howe forced to push the pace, until two to go when Van Gilder went over her handlebars in the sandpit. She quickly recovered, chased down the other two riders and put in a attack which Howe quickly nullified.
“They were definitely riding through the sand better than I was,” laughed Van Gilder about the other two rider in her group, “that was evident with two to go, a major head over wheels but I was like ‘this is alright, there is still time’, even if it had happened on the last lap, I felt that there was time maybe to still go for fourth if not third.”
Van Gilder put in her move in the final lap to get away and take the final podium spot. Winfield outsprinted Howe for fourth.
“I’m excited, I feel that I’ve learned a lot this season even in the short amount of races and it’s great to be here in Cincinnati.” said Van Gilder who is starting her second year racing cross and feels that she has improved since last year. “I remember on this course, I felt like I lost a lot of momentum in the corners, I wasn’t certain how to handle them and this year I felt a lot more comfortable. And yesterday was a good test of that too. Each race, I’m hoping to do as well if not better.”
“It’s awesome to race against Katie.” said Van Gilder who like many enjoy watching the World Cup leader attack and master a cross course. “I would love to contend with her, that’s a long way off, I have so man more skills to brush up on, But having here is great, I would love to see video of her, I mean I would love to be on her wheel just to witness the skills that she has and even Sue, I’m longing for the day where I can be right with Sue fighting for those spots.”
At the start of the men’s race, both Powers and Barry Wicks (KONA) went out fast from opposite sides of the front row, with Wicks taking the hole shot. Riding solo as his two teammates were racing in Providence, it was key for Powers to go out fast.
“It was just as important as every other race but today was good that I could just hang on to that and I didn’t have to suffer and play tactical games.” explained Powers. “Without any teammates, with two guys from KONA here, it’s important that I’m riding at the front and getting as much time as I can really because it’s the game I don’t want to play, I’ll play it if I have to but it’s better to not have to.”
Wicks led the field the first time into the sand pit with Powers and his teammate Ryan Trebon right behind him. Powers came to the front before the barriers which he then bunny hopped which the crowd noisily endorsed and opened up a gap on Wicks and everyone else.
To bunny hop or not? a no brainer for Powers. “I was just able to keep the time there, it’s not necessarily so much faster but it keeps me on my bike and off my feet, it’s clean and I can do it without any problems. It was getting harder to jump them because the tracks from all the shoes were ripping them up but then after that one time that I came kind of close to hitting the deck, I changed my line and went all the way to the right, it was better for me. And once I figured that out, then I was clean to go again. At the end of the race, the line changing a little bit and you get fatigued but yeah anytime I can do that, I’m excited. ”
Oh and in case you’re wondering Powers “almost never” practices the bunny hops. “It’s just something that you get, I don’t know how to explain it, I’m just willing to take the risk.”
Powers’ speed quickly splintered the field with a lead chase group consisting of Wicks, Trebon and Mark LaLonde (Planet Bike). Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com), Brian Matter (Gear Grinder), Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar) made up the second chase group.
Powers continued to extend his lead, rocking the barriers every lap. Fighting a head cold and still smarting from a chainring gash on his calf from yesterday’s race, Trebon faded back until he abandoned to rest up for the final race on Sunday. And that left two riders in the chase group. Seeing that they could not catch him, Wicks and LaLonde worked together to keep the pace steady and waited to battle for the second spot on the podium in the final lap.
“Powers, he always starts so fast. I’ve been struggling with the starts this year, I couldn’t really stay with him. Ryan came up and I could tell he was hurting pretty good so I figured I’d just ride with Mark and wait until the last lap. I could tell I was stronger than him but it’s a little bit nicer to ride with somebody, we rode together and we were sharing the work.” said Wicks.
LaLonde agreed. “Barry and I were switching off every half lap, we were going at it pretty steady pace.”
Meanwhile, the crowd was having fun on the barriers, with dollar and beer hand-ups and even a few lawn darts.
The battle for second place on the podium took place on the final lap with each man planning a different strategy in mind.
“I was hoping that I could take it to the line, ” explained LaLonde, “and the last tricky section get around him, it’s not a super long straight and I figured I could hang and hold him off maybe.”
But Wicks made his move first and took the second step on the podium. “I attacked after the start straight, right on the pavement. Because I was going throught the sand way better than he was so I knew that if I had a gap going into that, there would be no problems. I just did that. He’s riding really good, it’s impressive, we had a huge gap to the next group.”
“I just wasn’t able to respond today.” said LaLonde of Wicks’ attack. “It’s probably the best race I’d had in a long time, I was happy with third place, I definitely would have liked second but you can’t complain.”
“The last two days, I’ve gotten good starts and trying to capitalize on that.” said LaLonde who finished fourth yesterday. The 2007 singlespeed winner at Cross Nationals simply explained his new found fitness by increased training. “I’ve been training with a coach for the last year which is pretty new for me. Now that I actually have some structure to my riding rather than just riding around, it definitely seems to be helping and gives me a little bit more direction and how to go about it. ”
For Wicks, it makes two second place in two days. “Same thing yesterday, we got a gap pretty quick and then just ride it in. I just couldn’t match Powers today, he’s just riding pretty fast right now. You just have to save some energy and hopefully feel better tomorrow.”
The second chase group, now without Knapp, stayed together until the last minutes of the race when Parbo dug deep to finish fourth ahead of Matter.
The third and final race of the Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival, the Harbin Park, presented by BioWheels & United Dairy Farmers, takes place on Sunday. Will Powers and Compton three-peat? Will Trebon recover? We’ll know soon enough.
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