While Katie Compton (Planet Bike/Stevens) continued her domination in the final race Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival, the Cincinnati UCI3 Harbin Park presented by Biowheels and United Dairy Farmers, it was “battle royale” in the men’s race. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) and Ryan Trebon (KONA) went head to head, or is that mano a mano, for most of the race. Each marking the other until the final turn when Powers hit it and sprinted to victory making it a sweep for the 3-race series.
“It feels amazing. Honestly, if you have asked me if I would have been able to do this, I would have told you no. I’m on top of the moon again, this is a huge win. To win all three days, I can’t do better than that.” said Powers about his sweep.
The women’s race started like the previous two races with Sue Butler (Monavie Cannondale) getting the hole-shot and being passed by Compton who continued solo, increasing her gap lap after lap. Heck she even had time to grab a beer hand-up from the same fans that were handing out beer, dollar primes and lawn darts on Saturday. But she grabbed a beer only once, because as she said laughingly “I just had to slow down too much to take it”.
Each day, the race courses offered different challenges which Compton appreciated. “I love this weekend because you have three cross races in the same location and they are all completely different courses, different conditions, different set ups, different amount of twists and climbing. Today’s course was super fun, there were slow sections, fast sections, it was a hard course. I definitely felt three days of racing in the legs today, I don’t think I was nearly as smooth or graceful as I was in the last couple days” laughed Compton, “but it did the job.”
But behind her, a battle for the two remaining podium steps was going full swing as Butler was joined by Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) and Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten). With Van Gilder being such a good sprinter, as shown by her umpteenth wins on the road, both Butler and Howe did not want to take her to the line and tried to drop her numerous times but to no avail.
“I knew that if it came down to a sprint with Laura, I was screwed.” laughed Butler. If I get into a sprint with Laura, I’m going to lose. I kept trying to drop them, I tried to stand up and drop them. I probably spent too much time in the front of the three of us so I got smart and I sat behind but then it was slow, but I can’t go any faster so .. it was one of those days, it’s been a long run since StarCrossed and my body is ready for a break and it was an awesome weekend.”
“No one was really strong enough to ride away, we were going fast, keeping the pace high, I guess hoping someone would make a mistake and we could get rid of one person but it just kept going. I like being in front so I wouldn’t break going into the corners, I could carry my speed. In the end, when they put on the gas, that was it,” chuckled Howe, “I think that was the slowest sprint I’ve ever done in my life. I think I was in my easiest gear, it got really steep in the end.”
Lap after lap, the trio was together until Butler endoed over the railroad ties with two and a half laps to go.
“You’d think as as mountain biker I could really do a bunny hop over that, I couldn’t do it to save my life.” smiled Butler who crashed last weekend. “My ribs are really sore so that motion to pick up was just killing me. Going over the barriers hurt, I just had no pop today, I was a little empty tanked today. ”
But Butler quickly caught back up and the women stayed together until the uphill, in the wind, 200 meter finish stretch. Howe fell out the fast pace and Butler was forced to lead out Van Gilder who came around her to take second place.
“There was a lot of climbing which was going to suit Sue and probably Barb so I was just really looking to be a bit defensive rather than offensive. It was long way from the final corner and there was a lot of wind. Honestly, there was some tricky spots, when Sue endoed, you can’t count your chickens on a course like this, you can easily slide out. I figured if I could just keep it clean to the point where I could sprint then that’s the way I need to play the game sometimes. ” said Van Gilder.
Butler was third, Howe fourth and Dee Dee Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) was fifth.
Both Butler who podiumed every day and Howe were satisfied with their weekend. “I feel like it was good block of racing and a good building block for next time, ” said Butler who is pleased with her fitness, “but Barb had an amazing race, she was just killing it. Laura is fast, she’s no slouch.”
“I’m pretty happy, I’ve moved up a spot every day especially compared to last year,” said Howe. “I’m so much faster. I think last year I barely cracked the top 10 each day. I’m pretty happy that I’m so much faster this year. ”
For Compton, it was great training before she tackles the races in Europe with the end goal being the World Championship in January.
“Today was battle royale, everything was a throwdown” as Powers said right after his win. And it was. Powers, winner of the two previous races this weekend VS Trebon, US Cross National Champ. Finally, we got the see the battle between the two riders that was missing in the first two races, as Trebon has been battling a head cold since Tuesday.
“I had the opportunity to move to the front, I was just wanted to ride there a little bit, I was kind of expected to get dropped. This is a pretty hard course, a solid grind the whole time, I felt a little better, I can feel it in my head and my chest more than anything, it’s okay, I’m hoping it’s on its way out, it’s been lingering for the past couple of days.” said Trebon.
For Powers, the battle made the win even sweeter. “Really this is a much better win today than the other two days, I really feel that I deserved today. I love racing with Ryan because he’s a good competitor, today was a lot more fun for me.”
And we couldn’t have asked for a better course for such a duel. “Today was really hard, there’s so much elevation change so it makes for a really tough race. It’s fun, I like races that are selective, you can’t fake it.” said Trebon’s KONA teammate Barry Wicks when asked to describe the course. “There wasn’t anything that was technically challenging, it was just really hard terrain, all the climbing in the soft dirt, it’s a pretty taxing course.”
But before it was just the two of them, Troy Wells (Clif Bar) got the hole-shot, flew through the uphill sand pit to get a small gap to the field.
“The last couple of days, I haven’t been aggressive enough at the start and I’ve kind of been back there.” said Wells. “I felt terrible Friday, I felt better yesterday and I was hoping I’d feel good today. I didn’t want to get stuck in lapped traffic so I went straight from the gun, just get out there and see how I felt after a couple of laps.”
“Every year that we do this, Troy rips this sand section about ten times faster than anybody else and you just sit there and you’re just staring ‘how is this happening’. But then he goes a little bit slower on the back side so it’s evenly matched again, so really everybody is about the same. ” said Powers.
Powers, Trebon, Wicks and Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) quickly formed a chase group to bring Wells back. Powers was the first one to make contact with Trebon dangling a few meters back as Wicks and Parbo were dropped.
“Me and Powers were off for awhile and we saw Trebon coming. We were kind of swapping, to keep the gap and then once Trebon came, he started lighting it up up the finishing climb. I think with five to go, he just popped me a little bit, I didn’t get too smooth through the sand, kind of flailed.” said Wells.
And then there were two: Powers and Trebon, Trebon and Powers.
“Today Ryan really brought his game and was a big challenge. Actually he was riding three fourths of the course faster than me but luckily I have a lot of snap right now and the accelerations I was making on the straightaways, I was able to make up in the corner so we were almost identically matched.” said Powers.
“A couple of times I just accelerated, taking some risks through the corners and stuff and I’d get a little gap but Jeremy is riding pretty good right now.” said Trebon when asked if he attacked to try and drop Powers.
Finally it all came down to the final turn before the uphill stretch to the finish line.
“I knew that I had to take that last corner first if I was even going to have a shot at it and I put it all out there and went as fast as I could around that last corner and that was just enough,” said Powers, “I think he bobbled from that little extra speed and that was enough.”
“We were going down towards the finish and it goes around this little 180, it’s off camber on the outside and my front tire slipped a little bit, I ended up putting a foot down and that when he got a little gap.” described Trebon. “It’s a hard sprint and I didn’t have a ton left in my legs and Jeremy had it.”
Meanwhile behind battle at the front, Wicks hit the gas, dropped Parbo and caught up to Wells.
“I knew that it was going to be a pretty hard day, so I took it easy at the start, try to meter my effort because I didn’t want to blow up and end up dropped way back. So I ended up in no mans land for a bit and then I was able to chase down Troy. ” explained Wicks.
But as soon as Wicks made contact, bad luck hit Wells.
“Wicks eventually caught me and the second he caught me I flatted. And I had to ride all the way the finishing climb, run the sandpit and then got my B bike and then Parbo was three seconds behind me, but I was able to get a gap again and hold him off.” said Wells who ended fourth ahead of Parbo.
All Wicks had to do was finish safely for third place. ” Just when I caught him he got a flat tire, the instant I made contact he flatted so that made it a little easier on me so I could just cruise the last two or three laps.”
What’s next? For Powers, it’s the race in Toronto as part of the NACT where he will rejoin his teammates Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll and hope to continue the team’s winning ways. The team also swept the two UCI races in Providence, Rhode Island this weekend.
“It’s not been a really good weekend, I was feeling good last weekend. I was just feeling riding, it got really cold in Oregon, when you go out riding for the first time when it’s cold, you sweat a little bit and then you just get chilled. It happens, I got sick about this time last year. ” said Trebon who is skipping the race as planned and try to get healthy again. “I’m going to try to get over it and get some good solid riding through the USGP. I need to get some fitness back, I’m kind of lacking right now.”
“It was good, it was a good weekend,” said Wicks who podiumed at every race in the series. “I felt like I’m getting in shape, I’m getting there.”
Wells is satisfied with his 3-race weekend. “Friday didn’t go so great, yesterday I felt better and today was the big day with the C1 prize money, it’s kind of the bigger of the weekend. Normally I recover better, today was my main goal for the weekend so I’m happy with it. Louisville is next.”
From the official race report: In the bunch sprint for the final points positions, Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com) touched wheels with Greg Wittwer (Alan North America). Knapp crashed hard just meters from the finish line, breaking his collarbone. Determined to put on a final effort, Knapp rose after a few minutes and crossed the line with his bike to finish eleventh, the same place he was in when he crashed. It was, unfortunately, a bad day for collarbones, as at least three were broken in crashes on completely different parts of the course.
Complete results here.
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