What a ride from Jeremy Powers of the Cannondale presented by Cyclocrossworld.com team at the first race of the Greenware US Gran Prix of Cyclocross. His teammate, US National Cross Champion Tim Johnson who finished second, described it as “perfect”.
See photo gallery.
Taking the holeshot, Powers led from the start to the finish, bunny hopping the Selle Italia run up to the delight of the fans, and cornering perfectly to solo to victory in the 60-minute Planet Bike Cup ahead of a prestigious line-up. Not the first time for Powers on this course. He won last year when he escaped from Erwin Vervecken on the final lap for the win, but this year, he was domination from start to finish.
The gun went off, Powers hit the gas to establish a gap by the time he ran over the barriers on the first lap. Behind him, after a lap of so, a chase group had solidified. Leading the charge was Ryan Trebon (KONA) followed by Johnson, Christian Heule (Champion Systems) of Switzerland, Canadian Cross Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Rocky Mountain), Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Davide Frattini (Hudz-Subaru), 5-time French National Champion Francis Mourey (FDJ), Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), Tristan Schouten (cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf) and Luca Damiani.
When Trebon bobbled, Johnson pounced and Mourey went after him, but the Frenchman couldn’t hold the pace and faded back, dropping behind the chase group. That left teammate chasing teammate at the front, with Powers holding a gap that hovered between 15 to 20 seconds for the next 6 laps.
The battle was on for third spot on the podium in the chase group which had re-shuffled. Fading back were Damiani, Frattini and Trebon who ultimately abandoned the race. Joining the group was Todd Wells (Specialized) who chased on for multiple laps. They attacked and counter-attacked each other in the final laps with Page ultimately winning the sprint for third place ahead of Wells. Heule finished fifth.
Schouten finished 7th and was awarded the SRAM Most Aggressive rider honors.
Jeremy Ferguson (CalGiant) won the U23 contest after powering away from his competitors who battled each other until the end. Luke Keough (BikeReg.com/Cannondale) won the sprint for 2nd ahead of Joseph Schmalz (KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires).
Racing continues on Sunday with day 2 of the Planet Bike Cup, where more sun and fast racing is on the menu on a slightly modified course. Once again, follow @podium_live for live updates during the race.
Jeremy Powers (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), winner. “That was the plan. It’s such a twisty turny course, that if you get a gap here you can keep it and you can really mark where guys are at and so you know if he’s taken two seconds back then I need to go two seconds faster on this other section. But going from the gun was good because I could get to the stair section early and then open up a gap there which is what I did and then after that I was pretty much on auto-pilot, just trying to open up gaps. I could see that the guys behind weren’t ripping the really twisty turny sections as quickly was I was, I was just trying to keep the gas on and take the risk early. If it didn’t work out, there’s no harm in that, so took the risk early, got away and then held the gap.”
About bunny hopping the run up. “I made a big move right at the start and got a little bit of a gap and then I was able to use that gap and take a little bit of extra time the first time through so it was really good. Everything worked to plan.”
About leading the series after the first day (again). “I know, this year I want to hang on after this weekend. Last year I actually really rocked it, I am rocking a little bit of a head cold (laughs) but yeah, head cold, broken finger eight hours of sleep over the past three days so yeah I’m doing good.”
Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), second. “Jeremy had a perfect race today, from the start through the first lap, every single corner he was just flying the whole time. He really made his gap in the first couple of laps where it was up to the rest of us to try and get up to him. Ryan was chasing pretty hard, he had a little bit of a bobble in one of the corners and when he was having a hard time I hit it, but Jeremy just had too much of a gap. It was really a perfect race for him, it’s a great way to start the season. It’s a season-long series, who knows what’s going to happen in the next couple of stops.”
About Francis Mourey chasing him. “He’s one of the best riders in the world. The first three races he was here, I think he won all three, o for that kind of rider with that kind of reputation, if he’s coming up. I was expecting him to catch on and at least come around me to chase Jeremy down so for a little while there I was wondering whether or not I should sit up and wait for him and then continue along to race. He just got close but never got there and that’s where I hit the gas again trying to stay away.”
About Powers being able to see him chase. “The great thing with cross is that you can tell when somebody is really suffering and I was chasing as hard as I could. He might have looked over and seen a little bit of a jaw wagging when I was putting it down trying to get near him.”
Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), third. “You saw it today, you saw me there but not quite there. It just takes one of two efforts and I’m a little behind and I can’t make it right away and that’s what I mean. These guys were much better today and I was just constantly keeping the gas on but not closing.”
About the chase group. “I was behind Francis Mourey when he bobbled at the beginning so I was always playing catch up. When I got there, I was a few guys behind when Tim went so basically I was just trying to make up space the whole time. I was just doing the best I could today, the other guys went hard, I just kept constantly trying to get further and further ahead. I think I did a good job today because I didn’t over-extend myself and blow to holy heck. These guys just really took it to us.”
About the state of American cross from the view of living in Europe. “I think you saw with Mourey today, the traveling caught up with him. For myself, it’s just been the same thing, I’ve been struggling right along. American cross has gotten much better because right now these guys are in form and they’re showing it. Every year it’s always hard at the beginning of the year for myself and anybody else to come in and traveling, or not traveling, it’s much faster.”
About the depth of competition. “It doesn’t matter who is in front of me, that’s just the guy that I want to beat (laughs) I’ll take what I can get now, those guys are good and I’m just trying to make the best place that I can.”
Todd Wells (Specialized), fifth. “Once I made it up there with a few laps to, we had a good battle going. I got a small gap on Page and the group, I was riding the run up and that’s where I gained my time. And then Page came up and was had a small gap, the group clawed back and we hit it again. On the last lap, Page got in front and Heule was behind him and he got me of Page a bit,Page was going a bit faster than he was through that section, I rode the run up again and passed Heule. I couldn’t get around Page before the corner and that was it, Bu usually I’m a horrible sprinter and I want to put it out there that I didn’t lose any ground, I didn’t make up any group but I didn’t lose any ground. (laughs)”
About his start. “I didn’t get that great a position at the start and everyone at the start is pretty fast. The fifth-placed guy might be going a few seconds faster than the fifteenth-placed guy. It’s wide but you slow down through the corners, it bunches up if you’re not in the lead and then you’re fresh coming out of them so everyone sprints. It’s really hard until guys get tired to move up in the field at the beginning.”
Satisfied with his race? “I’m happy with the way today’s race went. In Vegas I was pretty bad and I feel like I had done my best training for Vegas that I’ve ever done and had my worst result so I was a little worried but it usually takes me a race or two to get going.”
Jeremy Ferguson (CalGiant), U23 winner. “There was about five laps to go when I got my gap. I was with one other guy, and we just kept a good pace and kept gapping the group behind.”
About the U23 battle in the race. “Me and Luke Keough, David Hackworthy, we were all in a group from the start. The race worked itself out and gaps started opening up and I was able to keep a good pace off the front and just ride my own race.”
About keeping the jersey. “I got the target on my back now. Season long I’d like to win the overall and yes I’d like to place well in every race.”
Top 10 Elite Men (Complete Results)
1. Jeremy Powers (Cannondal p/b CyclocrossWorld.com)
2. Tim Johnson (Cannondal p/b CyclocrossWorld.com)
3. Jonathan Page (Planet Bike)
4. Todd Wells (Specialized)
5. Christian Heule (Champion Systems)
6. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondal p/b CyclocrossWorld.com)
7. Tristan Shouten (cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf)
8. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain)
9. Davide Frattini (HUDZ Subaru)
10. Troy Wells (Clif Bar)