The boys in green came out of the Louisville races with another win, more podium finishes and the USGP lead halfway through the series. Somewhat surprisingly, the leader’s jersey is not on defending champion Tim Johnson‘s back but on his young teammate’s, Jamey Driscoll who is tied on points in a battle with US Cross Champion Ryan Trebon of the KONA squad.
The third musketeer of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team, Jeremy Powers, sits in fourth spot on the USGP standings at 13 points down, still making him a threat in the race and a great carrot to force others to chase. Canadian Cross Champ Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) is in third, at 8 points from the leader.
Driscoll got his hands on the lead on Sunday, when he placed second as his team swept the podium at Day 2 of the Derby City Cup. Trebon, who had won the previous day and claimed the jersey, abandoned after crashing and hitting his head – hard – twice.
Showing great consistency this year, Driscoll won the first race of the season CrossVegas and then finished many times in the top 3 in UCI races since then, and 7th in the first two USGPs and second in Saturday’s race.
“I don’t know if my schedule can be called balanced with respect to the effort that I put into each activity” said Driscoll who is in school studying mechanical engineering, “but I’m having a good time racing my bike and the jersey feels pretty good.”
But Driscoll is not stranger to taking the overall at USGP as he won it twice, as a U23 rider in 2006 and 2007. “The first year I did have to defend and then the second year, I snagged it the last weekend. I’m used to it and fortunately I have teammates this time. I think it’s really a tight race.”
And what teammates to provide assistance: Five-Time National Cross Champ, in the Junior, Under-23 and Elite, Johnson and Powers who have each racked up 5 UCI wins this year.
After hurting his shoulder at CrossVegas, Johnson sat out the first 2 USGPs in Madison. “It feels pretty good.” said Johnson about his 5 wins since this year. “I wish I could have gone a little faster Saturday, I did what I could sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad days.”
On Sunday, Johnson definitely had a good day. He powered away early from the field, put his head down, increased his gap lap after lap and had enough time to high-five the crowd at the finish.
“I don’t think so,” said Johnson what I mentioned the talk about him being on the form of his life, “you always want to hear that because that means you’re doing something right but I don’t know, when I have good form, it means that I can hurt myself and I go fast. Like Saturday I couldn’t really, I was dying, I had no choice, I was just hurting mo matter what but today I felt like I could really push hard and I had the range, it kind of means things are working well.”
Fighting a chest cold, Powers pulled out of the race on Saturday and finished third the next day, making it a sweep for his team. Both Powers and Driscoll played their teammate role on Sunday, with Powers pulling Johnson on the first lap until the defending USGP champ flew away, and then Driscoll dragged Powers for the rest of the race.
“That’s the best part of having good teammates, we help each other out when we can and today was definitely an opportunity for Jamey to help me out and he did and I appreciate that. He also got rewarded with the jersey.” said Powers with a definite rattle in his chest. “Yeah we’re all psyched, doing this three guys on the podium, that’s awesome.”
The next two races in the USGP series are the Mercer Cup presented by Knapp’s Cyclery, in New Jersey.
Driscoll knows that he has a battle on his hands. “You can never count Trebon out, on his good days, he’s hard to beat if not impossible to beat so we’ll have to see what it’s store.”
Powers and Johnson stand ready to help out their teammate.
“When we get to Jersey, it’s going to sloppy ass mud, it’s going to be awesome because it’s pretty simple. It will be whoever can go through the mud the fastest. Jamey is going to be hating me later on because I’ll be dragging him away from Ryan who’s going to be flying. He’s going to be begging me to slow down and I can’t wait for that.” laughed Johnson.
At that point, Driscoll leaned back and smiled.