U.S. National Champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) continued where he left off last year by taking a decisive win to claim his first ever CrossVegas on Wednesday night.
“That was a hard day. I’ve been thinking about that for about a month now and to finally pull it off, it feels really, really good. ” Powers said with a huge smile on his face after the race. “I think cyclocross is alive and well here in the States, I’m happy the Euros came over, it’s an awesome night for cylocross.”
He didn’t let travel issues mess with his mind, this race and this season is just too important. “At the beginning, I felt terrible, I had a long day of flying this morning because my flight got canceled last night, I had to fly this morning, take a standby flight which means that you don’t have any security. I got up fingers crossed that I made it. I made it at 10 am and I got lucky.”
To win the men’s race, Powers took a page out of the book written just one hour earlier by Sanne Van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) and waited for the opportune moment to strike. And when he did, he did so with conviction.
The first few laps, as they always are at CrossVegas, were a nervous affair, as some of the world’s top riders spent time seeking out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It took two laps, but the first major attack came from the newest rider om the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team, Ryan Trebon. Trebon launched a stinging attack climbing up the far side of the course and immediately put nearly ten second onto the chasing pack.
Giving him a hand was his teammate and former national champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), who was busy covering attacks and making sure Trebon has some room to work with.
On the third lap, two chasers emerged from a larger group of about ten riders – Jonathan Page and Arnaud Jouffroy (Telenet Fidea) – who quickly gapped the chasing pack and set about getting across to Trebon. While they didn’t quite make it up to the front, they effectively eliminated Trebon’s advantage, and by the time Lukas Flückiger (Trek World Racing) joined the move, Trebon was back into the fold.
The final selection for the men’s race came with five laps left to run as Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) went on the offensive. After reshuffling the chasing group, Kabush’s move was joined by Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement). The two worked well together for a time and the duo’s advantaged quickly went out beyond the 20 second mark.
It was then that Tim Johnson felt the time had come to get to the front of the race, and with four laps to go, put in a race-defining attack. Only Powers and Telenet Fidea’s Rob Peeters could hold Johnson’s pace, as the rest of the pack sat up, no one willing to take up the pace making.
Ahead, Berden began to ease away from Kabush, while Kabush looked content to wait for the chasing trio of Johnson, Powers and Peeters. Berden’s advantage had stretched to 40 seconds over the main chase group, but just 5 seconds ahead of the quartet fighting for second place.
As the leaders got the 3 laps to go signal, they had become a quintet, while Jouffroy was the only man keen on bringing back the leaders.
An unfortunately timed bobble by Peeters allowed Johnson and Powers to sneak away on the race’s penultimate lap, and it was quickly apparent that this race was going to be another chapter in one of American cyclocross’ most hotly contested rivalries. Johnson and Powers began to trade attacks and accelerations, both trying to see who would crack first.
Half way through lap seven, Powers finally found his advantage, and slowly but steadily began to pull away from Johnson. Behind, Berden had shed Kabush and had set to work consolidating the last spot on the podium.
Back in the chase group, last year’s winner, Lars Van der Haar (Rabobank – Giant) and Trebon were working their way back into podium contention. One by one, the duo overtook riders, eventually working their way up just shy of third place. In the end, Van der Haar got to within three seconds Berden’s of third place, finally finishing fourth, with Kabush in fifth and Trebon in sixth.
With one lap to go, Powers needed only ride a smooth, error free final lap and collect first CrossVegas victory. He did just that, finishing 19 seconds clear of Johnson.
Top 15 Men (Complete Results) – top 15 get UCI points
1. Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha-Focus 1:00:21
2. Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com +00:19
3. Ben Berden (BEL) Raleigh-Clement +00:27
4. Lars van der Haar (NED) Rabobank Giant Off – Road Team +00:30
5. Geoff Kabush (CAN) Scott-3Rox Racing +00:32
6. Ryan Trebon (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com
7. Arnaud Jouffroy (FRA) Telenet – Fidea +00:55
8. Jonathan Page (USA) +01:28
9. Lukas Flückiger (SWI) Trek World Racing +01:30
10. James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com +01:31
11. Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha-Focus +01:47
12. Niels Wubben (NED) Rabobank Giant Off – Road Team +01:56
13. Carl Decker (USA) Giant Bicycles +02:16
14. Yannick Eckmann (GER) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized
15. Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder / Clif Bar +02:17