After some entertaining trashtalking on twitter, we finally had the battle between east coast and west coast in today’s USGP Mercer Cup p/b Knapps Cyclery in New Jersey. West coast came out victorious in round one as Ryan Trebon (KONA) dropped Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) with two laps to go to take the win. The pair had dueled each other and the peanut-butter-like muddy course for a few laps until Trebon powered away.
“I was getting a little gap in that running section so I thought I had a little bit more power in the legs today. Tim definitely was riding good through a lot of the technical stuff but there such a small amount of technical and so much slogging away at the pedals, I just kept it out there out front and pushed it as hard as I could and it worked out.” said Trebon.
That was enough for the current US Cross Champion to also re-take the leader’s jersey from Johnson’s teammate Jamey Driscoll who had another slow start. Driscoll recovered to finish third.
Trebon was focusing on the win and not the leader’s jersey going into the race. “I wanted to win, it wasn’t that I was worrying about the points, I wanted to win the race. I knew that if I won the race, I would take the lead back but first goal was to win the race. The Saturday ones are always C1 so they are good points, it was nice. ”
Tropical storm Ida dropped bucket loads of rain and wind which turned the grassy field into a sloggy mud fest with off camber turns and long sections that had to be run to avoid the slip and slide. By the time the Elite Men took the start most of the grass was gone, ruts were formed, and it was mud everywhere as the pit crews were kept busy with bike changes and sprinting to the bike wash.
Once again, Canadian Cross Champ Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) got the holeshot and quickly established a gap. Behind him a chase group was formed which included Chris Jones (Champion Systems), U23 Cross Champion Nick Weighall (CalGiant-Specialized), young Swiss phenom Valentin Scherz (Pro-Cycles/Scott/Newwork), Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin), Johnson and Trebon and his teammate Barry Wicks. Quickly however, the chase group came down to three: Johnson, Trebon and Jones who was having a fabulous ride.
By the end of the second lap, the trio had caught Kabush. Soon after, Trebon made his move with only Johnson able to bridge up to him.
West vs East, Trebon vs Johnson. With four laps to go, the pair was battling it in the front each putting in little digs to try and get some distance. With two laps to, Trebon has a 12 seconds gap on Johnson, a gap which grew to 30 seconds as Trebon soloed to the win.
“It just kind of happened slowly, it happens a half second here, half second there and before you know it, it’s five seconds.” said Johnson about Trebon gapping him. “The whole race is brutal, you try to avoid a mechanical, you try to avoid a moment without force, you want to have a good ride the whole time, not give up anything.”
“I was just looking back and [thinking] ‘come on Tim crack’, I was going pretty hard, my legs were getting loaded up in the last two laps.” said Trebon. “Tim was fighting pretty good, a pretty close gap and I knew that if I made any mistake, had a mechanical or a small crash, he’d bring it back. I was just slogging away and hoping I could keep him off because Tim is not one of those guys that gives up pretty easily once you get a gap on him. You really have to fight the whole way.”
Meanwhile, Kabush and Jones were fighting it out for third place until both were struck by bad luck. Kabush had a broken derailleur the farthest away from the pit and had to run half a lap before he could get a new bike. He eventually finished eleventh. That left Jones alone chase until he hit a stake right after the pit with two laps to go.
“I got it inside, I crashed, my chain got caught between the cog and the frame and I had to take the wheel out and put it back in. I got with Davide, we duked it out for a second and then I rode away from him. I thought I was going to catch Tim but fourth is still pretty good for a muddy race, I’m still learning.” said Jones.
From slow start to Most Aggressive. USGP leader going into the race Driscoll had a slow start which put him in twenty-six place after the first lap.
“I got chopped in the first corner, got back into twenty-sixth,” said Driscoll about his start, “and I don’t want to use that as an excuse because I really felt that I didn’t have the legs. This race just cleared out so fast so there was ample opportunity to pass people, I just didn’t have that extra gear to catch up and that’s probably a function of the mud, everything being slower.”
Halfway through the race Driscoll had made his way back up to fifth spot, and finally crossed the line in third.
“I started going better and definitely found my rhythm, I felt like I was riding the course a lot more efficiently, not wasting energy and not breaking, putting the right where I needed to. I was given a couple of gifts with the third and fourth place riders breaking things.” sad Driscoll who was awarded the Most Aggressive prize.
The U23 division saw heated action with three young riders hitting the Top-10. Summerhill finished sixth overall to take top honors in the “Espoir” class. Behind him came 19-year-old Scherz in eighth and Zach McDonald (Stevens) in ninth overall, to round out the U23 podium. David Hackworthy (Stevens) held on to the U23 jersey.
The Nash show continues. As she did in the previous USGP races, Luna Chix’ Katerina Nash simply rode away from the field in the first lap and kept on going for another solo victory, and also increased her hold on the USGP leader’s jersey
“I feel good, I’ve had four weekends in a row of racing, now I’m going to go backand do a little more training, the season is going well. ” said Nash who is focusing on the World Championship to be held in her home country of the Czech Republic.
Her teammate Georgia Gould finished second after winning the battle with Meredith Miller (CalGiant-Specialized) who had a fabulous ride to finally crack a podium at a UCI cross race.
In the once again category, Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) took the holeshot but was soon caught by the time the field hit the pit on the first half-lap and Nash just flew away. Gould had a slight mishap in the pit which briefly dropped her down to fourth place.
“The first time I went through, I dropped my bike,” said Gould and then almost picked up her teammate’s bike,”and this is Alison’s bike. I can’t use this bike.”
Gould quickly recovered to move back up solo to second. Behind her the chase was on with Miller catching and passing riders.
“First made my way through a few riders and caught Alison.” said Miller who recovered from a slow start to catch up to Luna’s Alison Dunlap who was in fourth position at that point. “You know the battle we’ve had the last few races, [so I thought] I am not following her, I’m going to go right by her as hard as I can and kept on going.”
Miller passed Dunlap and went hunting for Gould which she caught with less than three laps to go.
“Finally caught Georgia and I was’ alright’ and followed her lines. There were a couple of sections where people were yelling at her to take certain lines because it was faster, ‘oh thanks that works for me’.” laughed Miller.
But then Miller made a mistake and Gould continued on for second place.
“Unfortunately, I came passed her at one point and then I bobbled,” said Miller who had to put a foot down as she slid out in one of the muddy sections, “she came around me.”
Mud and Pits. The riders were slip sliding away on the course today, forcing many to run on the long sections which could have been ridden easily if the course had been dry.
“It’s just tough, you have to keep on the gas, keep pedaling, pretty much wherever your shoulders are pointed is where you’re going to go. The way the ruts were out there, it’s pretty difficult to find a line so trying to chase someone was a whole lot easier to pick a good line.” said Johnson about riding in the mud.
Trebon enjoyed the running sections. “I like it when there’s a lot of off and on the bike, especially when there’s long flat running, I run a lot. One section out there that you ran 100 yards. It’s so much that I’m seconds faster on one hundred meters but I get back on the bike and I’m not out of breath, I can continue to push the pedals.”
Having a good pit crew was also very important today as the bike got heavier and heavier with all the mud and gunk sticking to up. “It’s a huge advantage when you have a good pit crew, we had Stu Thorne and all the other guys from Cannondale out there. We hae four bikes each in the pit, we can pit every half lap if we need to, change tire pressure, tire selection. To have a full level of support like that is a huge advantage.” said Johnson.
Most riders were pitting every half lap if they could. “The first two laps I did just once a lap.” said Trebon who then went to a half lap frequency. “I started looking at my bike, I thought it was going to be faster but the race course lane was getting pretty mucked up, the pit was pretty smooth and solid. You never lose too much time, it also sets you wider for the 180, you can take that 180 faster.”
“I changed twice a lap,” said Nash, “it was great to have the staff out there and keep up with that because it helped drastically. Every time I got on a clean bike, it was night and day.”
What’s next? Round two is on Sunday where the weather forecast calls for sun in the afternoon with highs in the low 60s. But the ground was completely saturated so the mud should hold. Be ready for the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com to explode and try to win and regain the lead. In the women’s race, I will be watching Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing) who finished fifth today.
“It was not an easy race today, my legs are tired right now.” said Trebon. “Tomorrow is going to be hard, I hope that everybody is smoked.”
The fun starts at 1:45pm for the Elite Women and 3pm for the Elite Men.
Elite Men’s Top 10
1. Ryan Trebon (KONA)
2. Timothy Johnson (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com)
3. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale / CyclocrossWorld.com)
4. Christopher Jones (Team Champion System)
5. davide frattini (Team Fuji)
6. Daniel Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin)
7. Barry Wicks (Kona)
8. Valentin Scherz (PRO CYCLES-SCOTT-NEWWORK)
9. Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles)
10. Todd Wells (Specialized)
Elite Women’s Top 10
1. Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team)
2. Georgia Gould (LUNA Pro Team)
3. Meredith Miller (California Giant/Specialized)
4. Alison Dunlap (LUNA Pro Team)
5. Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles)
6. Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles)
7. Amy Dombroski (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches-Radix)
8. Deidre Winfield (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
9. Susan Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com)
10. Alison Sydor (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)
Complete results here