One a warm and sunny day, the riders faced new challenges and old challenges – such as a mudpit followed by a runup with wooden stairs and the green monster aka fly over – at the U.S Gran Prix of Cyclocross Derby City Cup presented by Papa John’s. By all accounts, the course was still tough, with “demoralizing” sections.
The boys in green swept the podium in the Men’s Elite as Tim Johnson put on a show of force to win solo with his teammates Jamey Driscoll taking second and Jeremy Powers in third. Although tied on points with Ryan Trebon (KONA), Driscoll also became the new USGP leader as the tie-breaker is the placings in the last race.
“To end 1-2-3 at a race as big as this is pretty huge, we’ve had a great year so far, we came out of the blocks with a few wins. Jamey and Jeremy both have been able to take a lot of the biggest races so far, ” said Johnson, “but the Sundays in October in Kentucky have been pretty good to me, I’m pretty happy about that.”
Katerina Nash of the Luna Chix continued to dominate as she rode away on the first lap to solo to victory in the Women’s Elite race and increased her overall lead in the series. For a while, it looked as if the Luna team would sweep the podium but yesterday’s Most Aggressive rider Amy Dombroski (Richard Sachs/RGM Watches) broke up the party, winning the sprint for second. Alison Dunlap (Luna) took third.
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It’s all green. After pulling away on the first lap Johnson, who increased his gap every lap for seven laps, won with nearly a minute margin. He made it look easy. “Which I have to say was absolutely not easy, believe me.” replied Johnson when I told him that. “It hurts like hell.”
Powers hit it straight from the gun – well actually whistle – and took the holeshot to the barriers with Canadian Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) and Johnson on his wheel. Powers pressed on and got a small gap to Kabush and Johnson.
“I was on Kabush, we made it half the lap, maybe, the three of us and Kabush tried to ride those stairs, and he kind of messed up and I got up next to him and he got on his bike and he missed his pedal and I just hit it. Jeremy had maybe three seconds then, I bridged up to Jeremy and it was just he and I going.” said Johnson.
“I was riding like a bit of an idiot on the first lap,” explained Kabush. “I kind of slipped out on these stairs and then running up the back side there’s these stairs over there and I just stepped on the wood and it was pretty slick and fell down there and got to the back on the group.”
Johnson got on Powers’ wheel and the gap started to grow. Meanwhile behind them, the chase was on with Kabush, Barry Wicks (KONA), Chris Jones (Champions Systems), Jesse Anthony (Jamis), US U23 Cross Champion Nick Weighall (California Giant/Specialized) and Driscoll who was sitting on.
One name missing from the chase was USGP leader into the race Trebon, who crashed twice and hit his head – hard – each time.
“The first one was on that first lap, everybody was moving right across the course and I was going to come up the left side and Jamey moved right a little faster that I thought he was going to and we crossed wheels and I went down.” said Trebon who was sporting some nasty-looking bruises on his forehead from his helmet. “I went down pretty hard on my head the first time, it took me a minute to get my shit together and I think it kind of cracked my front wheel because I went around a corner over here pretty fast and I guess I hit a bump and it folded underneath me and the next thing I know, that one I took directly on the forehead. I was okay after one but two hits on the head in five minutes, it’s too much man.” US Cross Champion Trebon pulled out after the second crash.
An under-the-weather Powers pulled Johnson for one lap and then Johnson simply flew away. Meanwhile behind them, Driscoll made his move and launched himself from the chase group to bridge up to Powers by the end of the second lap.
“Tim and Jeremy were up the road and I was sitting on the chase group and I waited until they tried some of their matches getting back them back and then I went and fortunately I was able to separate myself effectively. I just chased up to Jeremy and we worked together for the rest of the race.” said Driscoll.
Powers pulled as long as he could. “Today Tim came up behind me, he was going 2 miles an hour faster I think, so ‘you just sit on as long as you can, and I’ll just keep on pulling, then you go and do your thing’, and he did ‘see ya’. So as you guys saw, he put on a show and luckily I had a good teammate Jamey to drag me around.” said Powers who added with a smile. “I’ve got a little chest cold here but it’s been good, wash your hands after you’re done touching the mike.”
Behind the boys in green, the chase group increased the pressure which caused the group to dwindle down to three: Kabush, Jones and Wicks.
“I think we were all riding at our limits, there were definitely some soft tough spots into the wind, trying to keep the momentum in our group but it was just another heavy day out there, a lot of hard work.” said Kabush.
Back at the front, Johnson put his head down and got down to the business of increasing his gap.
“Trying to go as fast as possible really, trying to do everything perfect and trying to go hard where you have to go hard and go easy where you have to go easy, ” replied Johnson when asked what was going through his mind, “because this course, just like yesterday, is really difficult. When you’re in the wet grass, you just lose motivation, it’s demoralizing, you’re just kind of slogging through the stuff so you have to rest when you can rest so you can keep the hardest even harder.”
One thing that did help his motivation however was the fact that his teammates were behind him and that a sweep of the podium was a definite possibility. “Jeremy was solo, Jamey attacked out of the chase group to catch him and I saw that. So that was nice. Lots of motivation.”
Powers focused on Driscoll’s wheel. “I felt terrible, I was actually suffering out there, after 5 or 10 minutes, it was pretty much suffering the whole time. Had Jamey not been there, I probably would not have finished on the podium because I sat on the whole time. It would have been the same thing in the group chasing but I was secure when I was able to sit on him. ”
In the final two laps, the chase trio attacked each other. Jones went first and got a gap but was brought back by Kabush who then counter-attacked and got away.
“I decided with a couple laps to go, got a bit of a gap on Chris and Barry, thought I’d make the most of it. I’m just riding diesel right now, not a lot of snap, still getting some fourths and fifths and hopefully I can kind of build on that next couple of rounds and get up on the podium hopefully.” said Kabush who was awarded the Most Aggressive prize.
Kabush then went hunting for the duo in front of him.
“He definitely put the pressure there and fortunately I was able to hold him off. I think, that’s a pretty good, ” said Driscoll about Kabush, “I’ve learned a lesson over the years, if someone attacks and they’re really surging up, it’s really easy to get worried, because ‘oh I know how strong he is’, but in Vegas it was pretty evident that you just have to be calm in that process because it’s hard for someone to take a 20-25 seconds gap, or whatever we had.”
Powers was worried about Kabush. “I stacked it over in the back and that also had me worried but I popped up really fast, I knew I had to keep it going, I wasn’t going to just give it up because I had suffered all day, the most I’ve suffered all season so I was like ‘there’s no way I’m just giving this up’ so I just blasted and made it.”
Johnson had time to high five the crowd and enjoy his win. Driscoll came in for second after slightly gapping Powers.
The Nash show. “I really enjoy the course out here in Kentucky and the fans out there were spectacular so it helps to get going.” said a smiling Nash who will be traveling to Belgium to race the European Cross Championships on November 1st. It will be her first European foray this year as she focuses on the World Cross Championships in her home country of the Czech Republic.
Once again, just like yesterday, Canadian Cross Champ Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) took the holeshot and led into the barriers on the first lap with Nash and her teammate Dunlap on her wheel. And once again, Nash started to pull away on the first lap. A chase group consisting of Sydor, Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale), with Dunlap and Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) sitting in, kept her in their sights for a lap or so, but Nash simply powered away.
When Dunlap and Gould saw that Nash had a comfortable lead, they hit the gas and separated themselves from Butler and Sydor.
Meanwhile a bit further back, Dombroski, who had a slow start, started making her way up through riders on her bid to catch up to the leaders. And once again, she started picking riders off as she made her way up.
“The start is definitely something that I need to work on I think. The big thing that I need to work on is finding that right gap in drafting because in road you can be really, really close but with cross, there’s kind of a fine line because people are going to bobble and get a little bit bogged down so if you’re real tight on them then the same thing is going to happen to you so that’s kind of what was happening to me that first lap. And then once I was able to be alone and take my own lines, I could put the power down I guess.” said 22-year old Dombroski.
Dombroski caught up to and then dropped Butler and Sydor on the mudpit on the backside of the course, and continued on to catch up with Gould and Dunlap. Meanwhile behind them, Sydor dropped Butler and continued on solo to take fifth.
Game on! “Once Katerina had a gap and Amy caught up with Georgia and I, I told Georgia ‘alright we have to attack and try to get rid of Amy because I know she’s a good sprinter’, so we did the best we can. ” said Dunlap.
Lap after lap, the trio stayed together with the Luna Chix putting in surges trying to drop Dombroski. Gould sometimes looked in trouble, but then would always come back strong.
“There was one or two times that she’d almost get gapped in the corners but then she’d come back, she had some surges that were really strong so she was definitely riding strong all day.” said Dombroski about Gould.
And to make it even more fun for Dombroski was the crowd reaction to the 2 on 1 battle. “The coolest things were the fans because you had two blue around you and just myself, so there were a lot of people cheering for me, cheering for them as well but the fans were awesome here.” said Dombroski with a smile.
But Dombroski stayed glued on the duo bidding her time until the final lap, as the gap to Nash continued to grow every lap. After watching the men’s race on Saturday, Dombroski had a plan, “I think I have an okay sprint on me and it’s something I’m working on too. Like I saw in the men’s race that Ryan was able to come around Jamey there so I kind of had that in mind.”
Dombroski made her move in the mud before the turn to the final straightaway to the finish line where disaster almost struck.
“My plan was to attack right before there,” said Dombroski about the mud section, “on the left was the best line, it’s packed down so my plan was to attack and take that line. I started to get in there, I guess I just got off track and it took me way over the right, I almost the fencing and everything and luckily I kept it upright today.”
Not only did she keep it upright, but she outsprinted Gould and Dunlap to take second place.
“Amy was super strong today, I give her a lot of credit. I did all I could, leading out, coming into the finish but Amy is fast. ” said Dunlap who finished third and was awarded the Most Aggressive prize.
“She’s only what? 20-something… I could be her mom. ” added a laughing Dunlap who was on the podium for the first time at a UCI cross race since coming back from retirement. “I had great legs today and it was super fun when it was the three of us racing because I love tactical racing, it makes it exciting and the crowd was awesome.”
Top Ten Men:
1. Tim Johnson – Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld.com
2. Jamey Driscoll – Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld.com
3. Jeremey Powers – Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld.com
4. Geoff Kabush – Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
5. Christopher Jones – Team Champion System
6. Barry Wicks – KONA
7. Nicholas Weighall – California Giant Berry Farms / Specialized
8. Jesse Anthony – Team Jamis
9. Davide Frattini – Team Fuji
10. Mark LaLonde – Planet Bike
Top Ten Women:
1. Katerina Nash – LUNA
2. Amy Dombroski – Richard Sachs
3. Alison Dunlap – LUNA
4. Georgia Gould – LUNA
5. Alison Sydor – Team Maxxis – Rocky Mountain
6. Sue Butler – Cannondale/Monavie
7. Kari Studley- Velo Bella
8. Kristin Wentworth – Planet Bike
9. Meredith Miller – California Giant Berry Farm/ Specialized
10. Kailtlin Antonneau – Planet Bike
Complete results here