Second and final part of the interview with Jeremy Powers of the Cannondale prepared by Cyclocrossworld.com team.
In the first part, we discussed his focus this year and maybe a change of attitude this year, and is he too nice a guy? Now we talk about his schedule, racing in Europe and the looming 2013 UCI World Cyclocross Championships in Louisville, KY.
Once again this year, Powers has showed blizting speed at the start to get the holeshot, a speed he was able to sustain to solo from start to finish for the win at the first race of the Greenware US Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Madison. The 27-year old was able to hold a gap ahead of a very strong field that included not only the top North American racers but 5-time French National Champion Francis Mourey (FDJ), multi-time Swiss National Champion Christian Heule (Champion System).
Our chat was held prior to the UCI3 races last weekend. Powers, along with his teammates Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll are now in Europe to race at the first World Cup of the season in Aigle, Switzerland.
How much do you think of the 2013 Worlds in Louisville now? Is that in the back of your mind?
Yeah for sure. I think that if the courses are similar to the way that we’ve been brought up and they don’t go European way, I think that I have a very good chance at being in the top 5. I don’t see why I couldn’t do that. Every time that those guys are here, I’m able to compete or beat them, that’s the way I’m thinking about it. There’s an opportunity for me here to really showcase myself in US cyclocross. Every time that Erwin [Vervecken] has come, you saw it with Christian [Heule], with [Francis] Mourey, you’ve seen it with all of these guys that have come over, they haven’t been as competitive here and I’m taking that opportunity to the bank. I’m going to be really really focused, that year you won’t see Behind the Barriers, you won’t see anything, there’s not going to be that stuff. That stuff is happening now so it won’t happen then.
In a familiar move, Powers bunny-hopped his way to victory at USGP #1 in Madison, WI. – Click for larger images or View [autoviewer id="63" width="1000" height="540" link="slideshow"]
You mentioned that you want to do well at the World Cups and Words this year, but it’s also still about Nationals right?
It is. I hate it when a guy gets introduced and they’re like 16-time National Champion at this, National Champion at that but it’s fine, I may be the Sven Nys of the National Title, whatever. I have no idea what it is or what it could become. I want to have that jersey and if I can then that’s great. It’s definitely a huge huge goal of mine but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be racing, no one should cry at night.
You said that since you don’t race in Europe you’re not used to the aggressive way they race. So why not race more there and less here?
Well, I think that there’s a bunch of things. The first thing is that right now we have a team that is US-based. We have sponsors that also have riders in Europe who are racing World Cups and European races and we do US races. So my sponsors are particularly concerned with US racing and then World Championships and World Cups. It’s a push pull, they want me to be here for the big races so we can get the attention here and showcase their product here but they also want us to do well at the world level. That’s why I haven’t been able to go to Europe as much, but we are doing more of it as the budget has increased. I think that we’re taking healthy steps with the program. Truthfully that’s probably good for me, you see a team like Garmin, they start out young and they get a couple of guys that stay with them throughout their ride and end up becoming really good riders.
How many World Cups?
On Tuesday we’re flying to Switzerland and then we’re doing the first World Cup and then we’re flying back so we can do Louisville because the USGP is a big focus for us. For me this year, now that I am fully committed to doing it, I’m going to take it as seriously as I can. I’ve actually never been on the podium at the overall GP, I missed it by one point last year, and the year before by two points or something. So to be more consistent and to really get those good rides at the USGP is something that I really think will help me and it’s a goal. It’s weird, in September and October I think oh it’s no problem, I should be able to do fine in these and I should be able to get on the podium. But focusing on those weeks later in the year and try to do well in November and December towards the USGP is something that I’m really focused on, I want to try and win the overall.
[As for World Cups,] Tim is going over in November to do two more I believe, I’m not going. I’m going to prepare for Nationals here in the United States by doing some races here and staying home. Going back over for a World Cup in France, Hoogerheide and then Worlds. I’m going to do a total of three World Cups.
You could the headliner on a team or have a team built around you, yet you choose to stay with Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com. There are three strong riders on the team, with Tim, Jamey and yourself. So why stay there and why not strike out on your own at this point in your career?
Ahhh, I’ve had other offers but there have been other programs that have come along and been strong offers, great offers even. But it would have to be perfect for me to leave what I have. One of the really, really big things here at Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com is that Stu is like a second dad almost, someone would have to do triple backflips and offer a bunch of cash for me to leave Cannondale. Stu, Cannondale and Cyclocrossworld.com have been so supportive.
But really, it’s Stu because he’s a second dad. You have to think about it, there’s probably five guys in the States that could be great riders, you see them, they are trickling around, they’re out there, they’re in the 5th to 10th place. If they had Stu Thorne or the attention to detail and all of the equipment and all of the resources that we have in terms of getting to the races and having support at the races, their game would be twice as high. They would be riding so much better, there would be less stress in their lives, they would be getting better results.
So from that angle, as an athlete I have goals and I want to reach those goals. I want to promote cyclocross, I want to try to do well at Worlds, I want to do all these things and this is the best program that I can get those things done at. If someone else comes along and they have a better program then I would consider that. But right now when I show up to a race Stu is there with the car, we have Jake there, we’ve got Troy with the trailer, I’ve got good friends there with Tim and James, we have a great time on the road, we’re really happy together. Why go against the grain? I’m not going to say that it’s so easy to do everything. There are things that I have to do as part of the program, I have to book my flights, I have to arrange something or do this or that, but that’s normal. I feel fine and comfortable with that stuff and I think that if I was going to leave there, I would need to be really careful what I was going into just because the lack of organization that another might have or not have (chuckles).
Right now, it seems that two of the strongest guys in the US are on the same team.
Right. If you look at it from one side, you say you know what this would be a great duel of Tim and Jeremy racing. You’re seeing Tim and I race. I don’t know how well anyone knows Tim Johnson but seriously he’s never been one of those things where he’s really said ‘hey Jeremy why don’t you have today’. It’s not how it happens. We do throw down. Do we put each other into the tape and do we hit each other? No I don’t know if people want to see that, maybe they do but I’m not really sure. But I do see the side of it where it can be a little bit redundant and we might be not hurting cross but we might not be giving everything to the fans that they want to see. I do want people to know that we do race each other full on. Tim is not going to let me win the USGP or Nationals or any of these races. People have said to me in the past ‘oh man why did your teammate chase you down?’ well, we’re teammates but he’s a good rider and he wants to win the race. You can’t expect us to be figuring out the race beforehand, ‘hey Tim you can win today and I can win on Sunday right’. That’s not really fair to either of us as athletes.
But would it be easier for you to battle Tim if you were not on the same team?
For sure, yeah it would be totally different, a completely different dynamic at the races. It’s definitely, as I said, something that I’ve thought about. Again it always comes back to is it going to be less stressful and would it be a better program for me and what I’m trying to do.
So you are ready to chase down Tim if you need to at Nationals?
I think we saw that last year, Tim chased me down last year.
Yes but I’m asking you if you’re ready to do it.
Oh but I’m going to have to, it’s not really an option. If I’m going to win Nationals then I would have to chase Tim down. It’s always a unique thing, people put it in a different light, Tim chasing me down, but that’s because I’m a strong starter.
I know but the reverse can happen. Will you chase him down is my question.
I think so. Of course I would. If it’s at the National title, the gloves are off, we need to throw down. It’s all about how it goes down too. Am I going to drag Todd and Ryan and someone else across with me? No, I’m going to wait for a section of the course where I feel that I’m better at and then I’m going to wait and then hit it there and try to get away and close the gap and do it solo. At the first USGP you saw Tim try to come across but then Mourey came back to him and from what people told me, Tim sat up, and I saw the video and it looked like Tim sat up a little bit, but then once he realized that Mourey was not gaining ground, he went again. At a race like Nationals, I have no idea, we have to race bikes and I have to wait how it plays out.
On a different subject is there anything you wouldn’t show on Behind the Barriers? Are you going to show the not so fun things?
All the stuff that is coming out is the normal stuff. Obviously I can’t show what’s going after a race at 2 in the morning in Las Vegas, we can’t put that in there (laughs). But I don’t know that people even want to see that. It’s weird. I’ve had a lot of constructive criticisms, a lot of positive feedback but also a lot of negative feedback. It’s been interesting. I’ve realized that when you put yourself out there, you should be open to criticisms. I’m totally open to it but I hope that what people walk away with is that this is the way that I am, and I’m kind of nutty and I have a lot of ADD-type tendencies because I run around like a banshee. It just works because it does, there’s so rhyme or reason, it’s just how it works.
Like I said you’re already accessible, why do this?
I think it’s important to bring it to the people that don’t maybe know what’s going on out there and see the races. I think that the media in general have everything covered, you guys are showing the race. What Sam and I are doing is really bringing that like ‘wow he flew from Vegas to Wisconsin and all this stuff happened in between’. People that are on the sideline only see one thing, this guy was a the race and he got 10th place. But there’s a whole other world of things going on like getting there. Like I said, on Behind the Barriers, we’re just stripping things down, this is raw stuff, it’s not edited. We haven’t orchestrated this whole thing where I’m going to walk into the wrong minivan and think that it’s the right car like I do in episode three. There are all these things that happen in the day to day world, ‘oh man this is ridiculous’ and I think that people should see those things because they’re funny and they’re cool. By bringing Sam along and just for the drive, he’s going to catch those things and that’s not something that everyone wants to do but because Sam and I are friends and because it worked out and he wanted to do this also, it worked out. It was fine for both of us. I have a couple of people that are helping pay for that but I’m actually the one that is paying for it, it’s Jeremy.
Yeah. It’s very much for me to show people hopefully what cyclocross is about and how it’s being run and what the events are like and the number of people that are showing up. And just to show the raw side of cyclocross is about. I think that if you rent a road race video, like that Philadelphia race video, you see a very serious ‘we’re going to do this in the race and this is what we’re going to do’, very suspenseful. This is more like, ‘no we were out til 3 in the morning at the Lazer pary DJ’ing, then we went to the show, after the show we went and did a race at 9 o’clock, we put down two espressos, we raced, then we were out until 5 in the morning. Then we got up and did a photo shoot at Zappos, then after that we had more meetings at Interbike, then 24 hours later we were racing in Madison where I won, then I got second the next day, then I came home. (breathes) I think that people should see that and even if they don’t appreciate it and they want to hate on it or whatever they want to do, at least it’s out there. My hope is that it makes people either get behind it and want to come see it. My big goal is to try and showcase that small funny stuff. I don’t know I’ll probably lose some fans and gain some, it will probably all come out the same in the end. (laughs)