Before the start of CrossVegas I asked Jamey Driscoll, of the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team, where he would attack in the race. He laughed and said I don’t know.
For the past two years, Driscoll has gone on the attack on the grassy course about 15 minutes away from the Las Vegas strip. In the inaugural race, he made his move along with Chris Jones on the first lap to take the win, the biggest of his career at that point. Many are still talking about the party that followed his victory.
In 2010, the Vermonter took a solo flyer halfway through the race, staying away from the concerted chase only to be pipped at the finish line by Francis Mourey (FDJ). Driscoll finished second.
And he did it again in 2011. The 24-year old rider attacked on the “sketchy sidewalk thing” with about four laps to go.
The field shattered under pressure of a fast first lap with a group of 11 riders off the front. For the next laps, the group which included Driscoll was like a breathing, swarming being, expanding and contracting under non-stop attacks.
“I think the Euro guys and anyone with teammate was trading off attacks.” Driscoll explained. “Just no one was letting anyone up the road basically because all the Euro guys are really big names, everyone in the group knew that you can’t let a big gap go.”
And then, Driscoll saw the perfect time to attack, the first move that stuck for more than a few meters.
“Tim was on the front, he was coming up from above and I came from below on the path and he closed whatever gap was there. You can’t really pass on that because that is really slippery and sketchy, that whole section he just sat up. It was a well-timed attack but I think the group decided that no one was getting away. “ Driscoll said.
With Driscoll off the front, his two teammates Tim Johnson and Christian Heule went to the front of the group to slow it down, until someone could get around. Not just anybody but double World Champion Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) who made his way up to Driscoll and then dropped him.
The Europeans, including Wellens and his teammate Rob Peeters, reigning U23 World Champion Lars van der Haar, Bart Aernouts (both of Rabobank) had learned from the past races.
“I think after doing this race and hearing about it, they know it’s a lot more tactical.” Driscoll said about the Europeans that traveled to Interbike to race at CrossVegas.
“It can be like a road race where everyone looks at each other while the race goes up the road. I tried but I think it wasn’t so much a matter of fitness, granted that may have been lacking a little bit too, but it was more a matter of people weren’t racing it like they had in the past few years.”
Driscoll was re-absorbed by the front group now chasing Wellens who was ultimately caught in the final lap. Van der Haar took the win in a tight sprint with Driscoll finishing in ninth place.
He admits to having a love-hate relationship with the CrossVegas race. “I don’t know if anyone has a love-love relationship with this race. I’ve had some good results, if you’re willing to suffer, if the race plays out in a manner that you can suffer for an extent of time, it can pay off.” Driscoll concluded.