Once again, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) crossed the finish line first at the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Bend, Oregon earlier today but today, there was no early celebration snafu like yesterday’s win. Powers was alone when he crossed the line after dropping Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), double pumping his first before grinning ear to ear.
“I’m really, really happy to win here today, it feels right today, yesterday it didn’t feel right. I felt embarrassed and pissed that I put my hands up too early or whatever happened so today feels like redemption. I know yesterday was a good result but today feels a lot better for me.” said Powers a few minutes after claiming the win.
Colder temperatures greeting everyone on the second day and final race of the USGP series. How cold was it? Powers asked the media at finish line for a second because his face was frozen – literally as he slurred his request. However, the cold didn’t change the conditions at all, still loose gravel, hidden rocks on a dry and dusty course which was only slightly modified from the previous day. Once again, riders’ front wheels were sliding out from other them, causing fast crashes and changing the front of the field.
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) pushed the pace at the front early one to get a small gap, all according to plan. “I don’t have any teammates and I thought that my best approach is just to go from the start and try to make that lead group because if I don’t I just get dragged down in battles. Today, I just took the advantage to ride at the front, ride my own line.”
Behind him the chase was organizing. First Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Cervelo) bridged up with Powers, Driscoll and Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) were charging up, and then Summerhill crashed. The chaos allowed Driscoll and Powers to escape.
“I think I was third wheel.” Kabush explained. “Driscoll was trying to come through, putting some pressure. Summerhill kind of washed out and I teboned right into him and I think Jeremy snuck by and that was the gap. I just had to fight it out to the end, trying to close it.”
“I was just trying to see how it was going to shake out and stay consistent, yesterday definitely took some of the snap out of my legs. As we got going, I was feeling like okay I can settle in once we got everybody back together.” Powers said. Feeling yesterday’s race, he waited and watched. “I was just keeping a little bit of distance to make sure that if crashes did happen that I had enough space to move around them and today that paid off.”
One of those early crashes involved Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) as he was surging up from the chase group. After falling back multiple spots, he was able to move back up but never saw the front of the race again.
Driscoll and Powers were off, with Powers sitting in, waiting to see if his teammate Jones would catch back up. When that didn’t happen, Powers attacked.
“When it was just James and I, James made a couple of dabs and I thought, well I’d better have a try with two to go.” He made his move on the wide finish straightaway. “This course is just damage control, there are so many areas where you can just, like Tim and Danny today both had like two really, not even a big crash, all of a sudden their front tire slid out and then they fell. I picked this spot because I felt most comfortable and I had the most space.”
After that, it was a matter of riding smoothly to the finish, for another win and Power’s second overall USGP title.
Behind the duo, Kabush was battling with Jones. “I felt really good, settled in and unfortunately a few falls got me off the lead and dealt with Jones and had to really dig deep to get rid of him at the end. I’m really happy to finish it off on the podium.”
Everyone remembers their first. It is the second year in a row that Powers wins the overall title. He admits that winning the first one was more difficult than defending the one this year.
“Last year, it was a battle royale with Tim, just a beat down at the last race. I forget, he had a bad first day but the last day, Tim was giving me the typical Timmy J stuff, ‘oh I’m not feeling good man, I’m sick’, and let me have my guard down and then, he comes out just flying out of the block on Sunday and so that was a really hard fought race. I remember it and I’ll always remember it as one of the hardest races I’ve ever done in the United States.” Powers said.
“This year is different, Ryan was riding so well earlier in the year, and I thought maybe if I just stayed consistent that I’d have a shot but I knew it was going to be, I had one bad ride in Madison, I didn’t know if I’d get the overall and so to have this, I’m really happy about it and I’m proud of it, and two years in a row is great.”
Kabush moved up to second overall while an injured Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) claimed third.
Race within the race. Crashes also impacted the U23 race with overall title still on the line. After a good start, all three, USGP leader into the race Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi) and Cody Kaiser (CalGiant) were in the early large chase group with Kaiser putting the pressure on.
“I was feeling really good today, unbelievably good today. I focused really hard on getting a good start, not letting anybody get in my way, I was right up there. For the first laps, I was feeling really good and then going on that back flat section on the pavement, I don’t really know what happened, but somehow Yannick ended up in my rear wheel, broke half the spokes out and the derailleur was hanging out. So I started running.” Kaiser explained
“Cody was killing it. I was just content, I was racing to win the series and the way the points spread out, I was able to sit on Cody, if Yannick didn’t beat Cody then I would still have enough points to be ahead. I was playing the tactical game and letting those two duke it out themselves, they ended up going down. I didn’t run over them, I’m glad about that, I made sure to avoid them.” McDonald said with a smile. “It was off the pavement on the backside, Yannick was splayed out.”
McDonald pushed on ahead while Eckmann quickly got back up to try and chase him back. Kaiser ran half a lap to the pit for a new bike but his hopes of a victory was gone.
McDonald was able to stay ahead to win the U23 race and the overall title. A limping Eckmann took second on the day and in the overall while Kaiser was third.
Top 10 Results
1. Jeremy Powers (Rapha/Focus)
2. James Driscoll (Cannondale pb Cyclocrossworld.com)
3. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain)
4. Christopher Jones (Rapha/Focus)
5. Christian Heule (Cannondale pb Cyclocrossworld.com)
6. Timothy Johnson (Cannondale pb Cyclocrossworld.com)
7. Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)
8. Tristan Schouten (cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue Bicycles)
9. Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Shimano)
10. Zach McDonald (Rapha/Focus)