It’s gonna get hot this weekend in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin at the first weekend of the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, the Planet Bike Cup. Though most have been racing for the past two weeks, accumulating UCI points, the first major throwdown is about to happen. Let’s take a closer look at the contenders.
Two riders have taken two UCI wins, both C2, this season so far. Two-times World Champion Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) and USGP defending champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus), both are currently in top form and are contenders for this weekend. Wellens swept last weekend’s race in Oregon, StarCrossed and Rapha-Focus GP while Powers took the first UCI race of the year, Nittany Lion Cross and Gateway Cross Cup on Wednesday. Both also raced aggressively at CrossVegas. For me, the two are favorites to take a win this weekend.
When the inevitable split happens at the front, Wellens will probably have his teammate Rob Peeters in the front group while Powers, on his new team, will be looking to be alliances with others – as it happened in Vegas. And that’s where Ryan Trebon (L&T/Felt) comes in. Trebon and Powers worked together to bring back attacks, and Trebon spent a lot of time at the front. With luck and smart racing, Trebon, a former winner of the USGP, can be back on top. And this year, he is gunning for it.
We’ve all said that having Powers racing on a different team will make a difference in the racing, well get ready to see it this weekend. It should off the wall racing.
There are other contenders of course. US Cross Champion Todd Wells (Specialized). Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) is looking for a win after making three times on the podium so far this year. And then, the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com trio with Tim Johnson, Christian Heule and Jamey Driscoll. Heule is in top form and should be fighting at the front.
Powers’ teammate Chris Jones will not be starting as he’s still suffering from a crash at the Tour of Britain a few weeks ago.
Another interesting race this year will be for the U23 title with many graduating to Elite this year, such as Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) and US U23 Champion Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Cervelo). Cody Kaiser (CalGiant), Yannick Eckmann (Pear Izumi), Joe Schmalz (KCCX/Fuji) are going for it.
On the women’s side, the favorite is Katerina Nash (Luna) who easily powered away from the field in Vegas especially with US National Champion Katie Compton (Rabobank) skipping the race. The battle seems poised to be for second place again, with Georgia Gould (Luna), Meredith Miller (CalGiant), Sue Butler (River City), Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com).
The racing starts Saturday. Follow @podium_live for all the action.