East coast vs West Coast at the finale of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross is on this weekend with the STANLEY Portland Cup held at the Portland International Raceway. Weather predictions call for a dry and cold day on Saturday which should make it fast, fast, fast – and we’ll be there, follow along at @podiuminsight on twitter. Sunday’s weather keeps changing and now calls for snow in the morning.
While the Elite Women’s race seems to be set to crown Luna’s Katerina Nash as the winner for the second year in a row, the Elite Men’s title is still up for grabs as only 30 points separates first and second place overall. That sets the scene for a battle between the two KONA-FSA riders, USGP leader Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks versus the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com trio of Jamey Driscoll who is second overall, Tim Johnson who sits in third at 36 point down and Jeremy Powers. Can Trebon hold off the 1-2 punch from the boys in green to keep the title?
Other riders coming into peak form for upcoming US National Championships and hoping to take the win include Todd Wells (Specialized), Adam Craig (Giant MTB), Jesse Anthony (Jamis), Chris Jones (Champion Systems). Not to be discounted either is Canadian National Champ Geoff Kabush who is closing off his cross season with the Portland races.
Can anyone beat Nash who has dominated the final four races, to win solo? Riders that will give it a shot include Amy Dombroski (Schlamm-Clement-Primus Mootry), recently un-retired former Mountain Bike World Champion Alison Dunlap. The field also includes Canadian National Champion Alyson Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis), Meredith Miller (CalGiant), Oregon resident Sue Butler (Cannondale-Monavie), and the Planet Bike riders Kristin Wentworth and Kaitlin Antonneau.
Another tight is the Junior Men 17/18 where the leader’s jersey changed shoulders at the last event, the Mercer Cup. Yannick Eckmann (Clif Bar Development Team) now leads with 23 points on Cody Kaiser (CalGiant).
The course is not much different than last year according to Men Jr 17/18 Chris Wallace (KCCX/Verge/Navigators Insurance). Wallace and U23 Elite Jo Schmalz (KCCX/Verge) provided their insight after pre-riding the course on Friday afternoon.
“Fast and bumpy.” said Wallace. After the staging for the start, the riders stay a “long time on the road with an easy transition on the grass. The first left from the grass to the gravel is where the funnel starts.”
“It should clog up at the chicane with 180 turn by the bleachers, on the vary far part of the course.” explained Schmatz about the next section of the course.
“The next big thing is the woops, it should be strung out by then.” continued Wallace. That is followed by a dropoff that leads into the steep runup that had some mud at the bottom.
That takes you mid-course with a slope down to give “a lot of speed when you hit the barriers.” said Schmalz.
“Then it gets flowy with another drop, a 180 turn and a steep runoff, it might be faster to run it.” finished Wallace. Schmalz then added “Depending how it dries up.”
Another very important race will be decided this weekend as well. The STANLEY Portland Cup is the second of two National Team selection races for Junior Men 17/18 and and U23 athletes hoping to compete at the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. These selection races, sponsored by EuroCross Camp, are of vital importance to those hoping for their season to continue into a European campaign after Nationals.
Racing begins on Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 am with the amateur categories and builds throughout the day with the Men Jr 17/18 starting at 11:30am and finishing off with the Elite Women at 1:45pm, followed by the Elite Men’s race at 3:00pm.
Full schedule and list of pre-registered riders at BikeReg.com