After the first weekend of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, the battle for the Elite Men’s overall seemed poised to be a battle between two riders, Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers, teammates on the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team. Well that’s exactly what is happening. Both want it and both are fighting for it.
How big is winning the overall? “Huge, for all of us, we all want to get it.” replied current USGP leader Johnson.
With two races to go, US National Cross Champion Johnson does have the advantage of a 16-point lead on Powers. In third sits the other teammate Jamey Driscoll at 108 points down. One thing is certain, a Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com rider will win the overall but which one?
With three weekends with six races completed, Georgia Gould (Luna) has a solid hold on the overall with battle shifting for the remaining podium spots. Her closest competitor at 58 points down is Katie Compton (Planet Bike) who will not be contesting the final race, the Stanley Portland Cup on December 4-5. CalGiant’s Meredith Miller is in third at 79 points down.
Johnson vs Powers. For the first four races of the series the duo split the wins and took turns being in the lead while tied on points with the other one after the weekend. After Planet Bike Cup Johnson was in the lead and Powers took over after Derby City Cup.
That all changed this past weekend when for once, neither podiumed on Saturday but Driscoll did finishing second to the only man able to break the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com juggernaut at USGP, Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis). Not feeling one hundred percent after a week of battling a cold, Johnson was involved in a 3-way battle for third for not only the podium spot but the all important series points. While he finished 5th behind Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Todd Wells (Specialized), Johnson took over the USGP lead while Wells seemed to be the man to watch.
Meanwhile, fighting the conditions and tire pressure, Powers had dropped back to twelfth after his usual fast start but re-grouped to finish 7th.
The next day, Johnson was on fire when he took off on the second lap and never looked back to win his third USGP race this year. Staying calm after being hit with two flat tires, a rear and a front, Powers was in a battle for 2nd place with Wells. After Wells crashed hard on the barriers, Powers slowed down to check on his friend and then took off to claim second. Kabush was 3rd ahead of Driscoll.
With Wells crashing out, the overall is down to two men, Johnson vs Powers and it all comes down to one weekend.
“One more weekend is two more races that’s the thing.” Johnson smiled
“We are still fighting for that overall jersey.” Powers said. “I am just trying to stay consistent. Second is not bad, the second flat really got me and I saw Tim go.”
Before the finale, the teammates are splitting up. Johnson is in Europe to race at this weekend’s Superprestige followed by the World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium. Powers is staying stateside where after taking a rest this weekend, he will contest the final races of the North American Cyclocross Trophy, the Bay State Cyclocross in Sterling, Massachusetts, aiming to take the overall in that series.
And then it’s all about Portland.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen in Portland, I have no idea what’s going to happen when I go to Europe and how that will go, we’ll have to see what happens.” Johnson said.
Both have done well there in the past. Last year, Powers won one race and finished second in the other one, both times in a battle with Wells. In 2008, Johnson won the first day and finished 3rd on the second, clinching the overall in the series.
Powers is looking forwards to the fourth and final weekend of the series. “I plan on getting some good training this week. I am coming off a rest week. Saturday I may not have been ready coming off of the rest week, though I am not really sure, it was hard to read yesterday. I felt strong but did not ride well.” he mused on Sunday. “Portland I will definitely be flying.”
Gould On Top. With the top US racers in the house which included Czech National Champion and Truckee-resident Katerina Nash (Luna), the field was detonated early on in the Elite Women’s races. On Saturday, Nash and Compton dueled until the end with Nash taking the sprint while Gould solo’ed in for third. In Sunday’s race, Compton dropped all her competitors to take another win ahead of Nash and Gould.
Barring a catastrophy, Gould should win the overall, all according to her goals for this season. “It feels really good, the USGP and Nationals are my two goals for the season so I’m really happy of course to be in the jersey.”
She is also looking forwards to battling for the win against her teammate and friend Nash. “I’m really excited that Katerina has going to be at Portland so it will be more more shot, I haven’t had a chance to race with her that much.”
Like all have said previously, she enjoys and looks forwards to racing against the best. “I want always the best people to show up at every race, I want everyone to be riding their fastest and showing up because that’s how we get faster, it’s not when one of us is racing here, and one is racing here, and one is racing there.”
And it’s great for the series which has done much to support women’s cycling. “I think it’s great that USGP, being the premiere series in the US, is really able to attract all the top riders to most of the races.”
Miller wants to keep her second spot overall and will be battling Kathy Sherwin (Hudz-Subaru) and Amy Dombroski (Luna) and even Nash for that spot.
Keough Solid In the Lead. In the Elite U23 men category, Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross) has been leading since the first weekend where he finished second and first respectively. Behind him, tied on points at 60 points down are the Calgiant teammates Cody Kaiser in his first year as a U23 rider and Jeremy Ferguson.
The U23 category has been heating up as the season progresses with Danny Summerhill (Felt Holowesko Partners) and Zach McDonald (Rapha/Focus) showing up and taking wins. But each time, Keough has battled and finished on the podium, in either second or third spot.
Keough needs to do it one more weekend, that is finish top 5 for the final two races in order to win the overall.
The racing in Portland will be hot, not only for the podium spots and series points, but also as the final testing ground before US Cross Nationals a few days later. Expect everyone to be at their best.
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