They did it again. The boys in green swept another podium and another weekend. Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com’s Tim Johnson won the battle against his own teammate Jeremy Powers to take back-to-back wins at Whitmore Landscaping Super Cross Cup in Southampton NY. Jamey Driscoll was third to make it another sweep. (Stay tuned for more photos).
So you may ask, were Johnson and Powers really duking it out at the front? Let’s see, the fight ripped Powers’ skinsuit and Johnson was awarded a wrestler’s belt as the winner of the NACT series.
“We had a blast out there, we were hitting each other over and over again. That was smashing each other as best as we could. The singletrack after the steep uphill that was where if you had anything it paid off. When it goes super hard and really easy and then super hard again, that’s tough, it’s just on and off the throttle, we were just nailing each other back and forth.” said Johnson.
“We were going quick, just taking shots at each other, we want to race hard right now to get ready for this end of this year.” Powers agreed. “It’s tough, it’s going to be a hard race at Nationals, I don’t know how Jonathan’s condition is and the other guys and obviously racing Tim is going to be the…”
And there you have it the USA National Cross Championships, where teammates become fierce competitors, is coming up in two weeks. The race is on everyone’s mind as they get ready and test each other.
“It’s really unique because we know each other inside and out.” said Powers about racing against his teammate. “And he knows mine.” he added with a laugh when I commented ‘you know his weaknesses.’
First there was one. KONA’s Ryan Trebon took the holeshot on the course that was reversed from Saturday. The rubber band broke early on with high pace set and a group of seven was off the front. Trebon, Powers, Johnson, Driscoll, Chris Jones (Champion Systems), Valentin Scherz (ProCycles-Scott-Newwork) and Danish Champion Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard) all made the split.
Quickly Powers made his patented first lap move to get a gap of 5 seconds. Behind, the group became four as Parbo faded back and Jones had a mishap in the pit when he went off course. The gap kept increasing, 10, 12, 15 seconds to the chase group where only Sherz and Trebon were working.
Then Johnson saw a weakness in Trebon and attacked.
“Ryan and Sherz were pulling together, fortunately not making a lot of headway and then Timmy attacked and Trebon just sort of sat up. Scherz went with Tim and Trebon sat on my wheel, he was just kind of sick of getting worked over. ” said Driscoll.
Then there were two + one. “When it looked like Ryan was hurting a little bit, I attacked him hopefully to get rid of him and it worked and all of a sudden I happened to get up to Jeremy.” said Johnson who made contact with his teammate.
“Then Sherz got gapped off of Tim and I made my move on the side hill. I used Sherz to block Trebon out and I think that’s where I got my initial gap and then just really drilled it as much as I could.” said Driscoll who was again chasing solo for third spot.
With six laps to go, Johnson and Powers went at it, taking turns at the front, hitting each other with everything they had. With four laps to go, the duo slowed their pace down a bit, were they waiting for Driscoll?
“I thought that they were waiting for me possibly but then I realized that they were playing cat and mouse with each other.” said Driscoll.
“The kid has to get into the race on his own,” said Johnson about waiting for Driscoll, “and I mean that in the best possible way.”
The respite was short-lived as the duo went back at it. On the steep climb, over logs in the runup, on the singletrack in the woods, over the barriers, taking turns at the front trying to drop the other.
“If you have ever done a team trial, they hurt like hell, if you’ve ever gone on a training ride with your teammate and you’re both “helping” each other, you just put each other on the limit and then squeeze a little bit more, squeeze a little bit more and that’s what happened. Two teammates out front like that is never going to be easy, we’re going to beat the hell of each other.” said Johnson.
“It just attrition, it was one after the other, the other, the other and this course, I’ve never actually won here which is funny. That says something, I never really have done well at these courses.” said Powers. “Really punchy steep climbs like this are hard for me.”
This was the first weekend back to racing for Powers after being sick. “I still felt a little bit underpowered, it’s good though, it’s coming.”
And then there was one. “I hit him on the backside of the soccer fields, then on the backside and all across the off camber through the woods so by the time I got through here [lower level back to finish line], I had a couple of seconds.” explained Johnson.
The gap help as Johnson crossed the line followed by Powers then Driscoll.
“I just timetrialed it which is kind of my thing, I’m not as snappy as I was at the beginning of the year so I just rode by myself and try to rest up that I can stay with those guys.” said Driscoll who is also thinking of Nationals. I told you everyone is.
Spirited battle for fourth. After Driscoll made his move, Scherz dropped Trebon to continue solo in fourth place until he had to battle with a surging Adam Craig (Giant MTB).
“Yesterday, I had a fast start, the fastest and after that, it was hard, my legs were hurting which wasn’t too surprising because they were hurting during the week after Mercer. I recovered well last night, and I decided to change my tactics a bit so I waited to see how the race would unfold before pushing it. The first part, I was riding with the two Cannondale boys. Since they had a leader in front, it was up to Trebon and myself to roll so I tried a bit but. After that Trebon dropped, the Cannondale boys attacked and I did my own race. Craig came on strong and that was played out in the final two laps.” said Scherz.
Craig had another slow start and then made his way up, picking off riders as he went.
“I was stoked to catch Chris Jones, he kind of hosed me at the start, he missed his pedal and that was the gap that he kind of got up through and I didn’t. I set my sights on him and it was sweet, I caught him and got rid of him. ” said Craig who then went after Trebon. “It was like ‘man Ryan’s body language suggests that he is just not hauling ass’ so maybe I should try and catch those guys and then caught them. Then I had a brake issue and pitted. I keep kicking those wide profile brakes open which is kind of sketchy, because of my body position and where those brakes are.”
“That Swiss guy, it was like crap I’m not going to get back to him and then I came to the barriers and he was tumbling and his bike was going ‘thung’. I got able to get around him, get my sweet bike back for the last lap. ” continued Craig who kept the gap to take fourth place.
After a long successful mountain bike season, Craig made the trip to the East Coast to get some valuable UCI points before USA Cross Nationals. “For me to be in something right now, it needs to be fun and rewarding and this was fun, this was good times. There were dudes over there that were stoked about my skids around that corner so pretty much that made it so I enjoyed riding fast.” He should now have enough points to line up in the second row, “which is fine as long as I line up behind the right person. That person being Powers or Ryan or somebody’s fast, I’ll to try to be in the mix.”
Duel to the finish. While the numbers were small in the Elite Women’s field, the fight was hot. Straight from the gun, the speed was high and soon it became a duel between Amy Dombroski (Schlamm-Clement-Mootry) and Georgia Gould (Luna) for the top step of the podium. In the end, Dombroski swept the weekend. Kelli Emmett (Giant MTB) took third, her second podium of the weekend.
“I knew a win was possible but I knew that it would be very hard fought and both days were very hard fought for sure. There’s a strong field here.” said Dombroski who is also eyeing the upcoming Nationals. “I think I timed it well, my coach and I timed it well. I’ll take a weekend off here to train and then head up to Portland and Bend. Hopefully the fitness keeps on coming, I still have a bit to go so more room.”
An ailing Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussure) finished 6th on the day and won the overall NACT series.
“I gave it everything I could off the start, I went as hard as I could in the first lap and then I went into my little falling backwards a lot. I did my best, I wanted to make the NACT series proud, I wanted to make Louis Garneau proud so I gave it everything I had for today.” said Elliott.
Boom, boom, boom. Another good start for Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes) as she took the holeshot.
“I felt pretty happy with my start both days, for me it seems that every race I have to learn something and get settled in with it.” said Van Gilder who is on her second cross season ever. “These races I felt that I had a good start and stayed with the front runners for longer, that’s always tough. Gosh if I could stay with them a lap, it seems that they settle, you settle and you’re always the same distance.”
But soon, three riders had a gap, as Dombroski, Gould and Emmett hit the gas. Behind them, shuffling and re-shuffling as Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes), Van Gilder, Elliott and Andrea Smith (Minuteman) organized themselves into chase groups.
Then there were two. Gould who was feeling much better than yesterday and Dombroski went off the front. With four laps to go, the duo had a gap of over ten seconds on the chase.
“Today, Georgia was wicked strong today, she’s a smart racer, very very strong and so I definitely had to think about where I was making the big efforts. Georgia was riding really really strong in the hills, I think stronger that I was, she would gap me on the climb, it was more the flats that I was using.” said Dombroski.
The duel went on as Dombroski hit it in the flats, and Gould on the climbs.
“I just didn’t have the little extra where I thought I could make it stick. Sometimes I’d get a little gap and I didn’t want to go too hard because she likes to counterattack when she catches back up so I wouldn’t have enough.” said Gould.
As one would get a bike length or two, the other rider would shut it down. It continued like this lap after lap until the final lap.
“I think that there was a little bit of panic in both of us, I had a couple of little bobbles and when that happens, you’re like ‘oh oh better get back and concentrate’. It was definitely a course where you had to be very very attentive on, you had a little bit of everything everywhere.” said Dombroski.
Just a few extra meters. That was all it took for Dombroski to get the win as she went inside as the riders hit the pavement on the final lap.
“She never really got away from me but coming out onto the pavement, I just went a little bit wide, she got a little bit of a gap as we were both going the same speed. ” explained Gould.
Emmett continued in for third, and Van Gilder took fourth.
“I thought that a clean race was going to make the difference today versus pushing it and maybe bobbling. It wasn’t super tricky, I find that everytime I make a mistake those seconds are the ones that I can’t get back. I just tried to be focus and pick people off.” said Van Gilder.
So did we learn something before Nationals? well it’s going to be a tough race but we knew that already. There is one more big race before THE big race, the USGP finale in Portland on December 5 & 6, it should be a doozy.
Elite Men Top 10
1. Tim Johnson (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com)
2. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com)
3. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com)
4. Adam Craig (Giant MTB Team)
5. Valentin Scherz (Procycles-Scott-Newwork)
6. Ryan Trebon (KONA-FSA)
7. Christopher Jones (Champion Systems)
8. Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard cycles)
9. Tyler Trace (Trek Red Truck)
10. Derrick St John (Garneau Club Chaussures)
Elite Women Top 10
1. Amy Dombroski (Schlamm p/b Clement&Primus Mootry)
2. Georgia Gould (Luna Chix)
3. Kelli Emmett (Giant MTB)
4. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
5. Mary McConneloug (KENDA-Seven-NoTubes)
6. Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussures)
7. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (Pedalpowercoaching.com/ Landrys Bicycles)
8. Andrea Smith (Minuteman Road Club)
9. Linnea Koons (October Factory Racing)
10. Sally Annis (Hub Racing)