Once again, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was duking it out at the front of a cross race, but this time it was against US Cross Champion Todd Wells (Specialized) at day two of the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Derby City Cup. On Saturday, Powers had been locked in a duel with Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) when he made a move to come under on the inside before hitting the pavement and taking the win. On Sunday, Powers once again hit the pavement first with Wells chasing and was able to hold on, even after posting early and going back into the drops to keep a sprinting Wells at bay.
But the racing itself was quite different. Powers had to adjust his racing style to deal with Wells, especially in the final two laps.
“Todd was really really strong at the end and I was definitely trying as hard as I could to continually just change the pace, it’s not something that I usually do but trying to really take it an advantage where I could. I wasn’t really able to put a chink in his armor.” Powers explained.
Not taking chance, Powers made sure to be at the front on the final lap, keeping Wells behind him who was trying to pass.
“I was hoping to get in front of Powers before that ride up, brake check him.” laughed Wells, “Get a couple of meters and maybe be able to hold on to the end but I couldn’t get around him before then. He just took off from there.”
After very long laps on Saturday, the course was shortened for the second day in Louisville, and the uphill sandpit was moved slightly, putting it more in an incline and trickier. It caused some traffic jams in the early laps, forcing riders to put their foot down. Other changes included a new 180 turn at the bottom of the Sella Italia runup, and a few different off-camber sections.
“This course was definitely a lot faster in my opinions, it had a lot more turns and again similar to yesterday, it left you gassed in all the wrong places, make a lot of mistakes from just being really tired in the wrong sections, sand section, off camber up hill sections where you just lose your balance, that really steep hill in the back, there were a lot of sections that really took a lot of power, a lot of torque but there was also a lot of sections where you could make mistakes.” Powers said.
After being forced to chase on Saturday, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) came to the front early on, coming around Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper) who had taken the holeshot.
“I was aggressive early on, there are a couple of sections, the sand pit was a lot more difficult today so you wanted to go over that in the first position as well as the runup.” Kabush said.
“Geoff laid some power early on which kind of put me in a bad place for the first couple of laps, just feeling yesterday’s race, a lot in my legs in the early part of the race. It is what it is, hard day all around.” Powers commented.
Kabush and Wells took turns at the front pushing the pace and shattering the field. A group of five, Kabush, Wells, Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), Powers and Berden were off the front. Behind Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) were chasing together with another group behind them, where the race-within-a-race, the U23 contest was in full action.
With four laps to go, Kabush, Wells and Powers were off, and none of the three would get caught again. Kabush paid for his early efforts and was dropped leaving the duel at the front. The pair went at it, attacking each other, shifting speed, launching power bombs on the straights but neither could drop the other. It came down to that final runup and turn onto the pavement where Powers got the better of Wells.
USGP leader into the race Trebon crashed violently on his knee during the pre-ride. Wearing a compression leg warmer on his left leg, Trebon, with teeth clenched, pushed through the major pain to finish in in tenth place.
“It’s unfortunate for Ryan to bang his knee like he did, it was swollen and obviously we don’t wish that upon anyone. That said, it’s part of racing.” Powers commented.
Defending champion Powers takes over the USGP leader’s jersey with two races to go, the finale in Bend. He has a slim six-point lead on Trebon. “The USGP is a great series, it’s our national series, it’s awesome to be in the jersey. I’m really happy to have it again, we’ll just have to see what happens. Bend is Ryan’s hometown, he’ll be sleeping in his own bed, I’ll be traveling there to defend this jersey the best way that I can, I’ll hope for the best.”
Kabush held on to third. “I burned a few matches early on but then I was really suffering in the end but really happy to be on the podium and third overall in the series. Hopefully I can to Bend to defend that position.”
Jones dropped Driscoll and surged up to Berden. The two fought it out until the finale where Berden took fourth.
Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi) won the U23 race which put him back into the leader’s jersey. Cody Kaiser (CalGiant) was second and Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), third.
Top 10 Results
1. Jeremy Powers (Rapha/Focus) 1:03:50
2. Todd Wells (Specialized) 1:03:51
3. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain) 1:04:38
4. Ben Berden (Ops Ale – Stoemper) 1:04:53
5. Christopher Jones (Rapha/Focus) 1:04:54
6. Tim Johnson (Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.c) 1:05:11
7. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.c) 1:05:29
8. Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Clif Bar) 1:05:35
9. Tristan Schouten (Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue B) 1:05:55
10. Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) 1:06:11