Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) came into the fourth and final race of the UCI series Cross After Dark with a chance at taking the overall with series leader Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) racing in Europe. But he wasn’t the only one, Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper) also had his eye on the overall win.
With Berden leading Trebon by only 11 points going into Spooky Cross in Irvine, CA, it was all about tactics between the two as the difference between first- and second-place finish was 15 points.
“Me and Ben were racing for that Cross After Dark series and I essentially had to win and he had to finish anything and anybody else won, he just had to finish right next to me because it’s just a points thing.” Trebon said.
Trebon had collected points in the series with a fifth at CrossVegas, and a second place at StarCrossed, while Berden finished twelfth at CrossVegas, fourth at StarCrossed and second at the Gateway Cross Cup.
On a warm Saturday night under the lights, the two quickly found themselves off the front within three laps of the race, but they were joined by another rider. And not just any rider at that, but US Cross Champion Todd Wells (Specialized) who became a pawn in the game of tactics.
“I was aware that this was part of the series but I wasn’t aware that those two were racing for the series win.” Wells smiled.
“He only had to mark me tonight.” Trebon said about Berden, “He was strong, I was really worried about him going through that sand, he’s good at it. For him, he’s just fast through there, he had a gap on us a couple of times and I just had to shut it down.”
While Trebon set the pace at the front for the most part, Wells put in a few digs to up the pace whenever it slowed. Berden was happy to let Wells go, forcing Trebon to shut down any and all moves.
“There’s fifteen points difference to the second place and I had eleven points more than Ryan so it would be good when Todd wanted to go.” Berden explained.
“We rode the race super slow through everything that people could see here but all the racing was done on the backside, especially that long pavement. I was just running flat out the whole way just to be at the front, be the first one through the sandpit. That’s where the race really was that back section, most of it was the wooded section, it was technical, you just wanted to put gaps to people and just extend it through the sand. It was hard.” Trebon commented.
The sandpit on the backside was preceded by a short paved section and followed by a longer one where speeds were high. And the sandpit was were Wells was gapped off on the final lap, leaving Trebon and Berden to battle it out to the end.
The race and the series came down to a sprint where Trebon got a very small jump way before the finish line, taking the final turn at the front.
“The last lap I just wanted to keep the pace really high, hopefully have two or three bike lengths coming into the sprint but lucky I held it.” Trebon smiled.
Berden finished a disappointed second. “We were going for the Cross After Dark series. Second is not bad but first place is what counts.”
And Trebon won the UCI four-race Cross After Dark series. “It was a hard one to win. I thought I was going to lose the whole race until that last ten feet, I thought the whole thing was going away from me.”
The next day brought sunny afternoon racing on the same course and another duel but this time between Trebon and Wells. The pair battled it out until the final lap where once again, Trebon used his power before the sandpit.
“Just that long pavement section into the sand. I hit the sand going pretty fast, I just got off my bike ten feet later than he did, and so that little gap grows when you get back on the pavement, really pushing it.” Trebon explained.
With that, Trebon added more checkmarks to his win column including his first UCI series of the year. Will there be another series win this year?
“We’ll see.” replied Trebon who now leads the USGP halfway through the series.
After a couple of year of lackluster – for him – racing, Trebon struck out on his own, creating his own team LTS/Felt – a team of one at the moment. The eponymous LTS is named for the two principles Dusty Labarr, the team manager & mechanic and Trebon.
Are we seeing the Trebon of old? You remember the tall dude who won pretty much everything from 2006 to 2008? During that period, the 6.5 feet-tall rider won the USA National Cross Championships (in 2006 and 2008), the USA Mountain-Bike National Championships in cross-country (2006) and short track (2007). He also won the overall USGP four times in his career so far.
“Better than the Ryan of old for sure.” the 30-year old rider smiled.
Trebon added, “Everybody is racing good. I just think that me and Jeremy (Powers) want to do well, we are more motivated than other people to race hard and suffer, sometimes that makes a little bit of a difference.”
After a weekend off, Trebon will be heading out to race the Colorado Cross Classic and Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup in Boulder, Colorado. followed by round three of the USGP, the Derby City Cup in Louisville, KY.