Belgian Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) has been battling at the front of many cross races this season, claiming two victories and six top 3 finishes in 17 races so far.
“My worst result is sixth place so that’s pretty good, one race I didn’t finish because I had a mechanical. My season is better than last year. I worked hard for it, I have a good girlfriend, I have a big team, I think it’s good now.” Berden told podiuminsight.
At the USGP Derby City Cup this past weekend, Berden made the front group each day and battled it out for the podium spots. A short night didn’t dampen his beginning speed for the 37-year old who was the fastest off the line to grab the holeshot.
“I woke up at three o’clock in the morning, completely awake. Don’t know why, maybe because I had three dark beers at 11 percent.” he laughed.
A seven-rider lead separated itself early on in the very fast race, with lap times hovering around the six minutes on the hard and dry course with unseasonably warm weather in Louisville. An attack on the third lap left three off the front, Berden, Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus). The three pushed the pace until Trebon bobbled and fell back but Berden could not match Powers’ speed.
“The sandpit was really a tough part and I was really good at it but Jeremy Powers bunny hopped those concrete [ed: limestone] stairs, he got five meters and he was going faster and faster, and he got a gap. He was too powerful. Then, Ryan came and I got on his wheel and I was thinking about a sprint until Johnson came back.”
With three laps to go, Powers was off solo to sweep the weekend. First Trebon, then his teammate Tim Johnson chased back onto Berden’s wheel. With one lap to go, the trio was still together, three riders fighting for the two remaining podium steps.
“Ryan wanted to catch up to Jeremy Powers but in the end, he blew up his motor, I think and I was waiting for the sprint.” explained Berden who added that the two teammates did not play games. Then he made his move in the long uphill sandpit, about halfway through the final lap. “I got 10, 15 meters on Tim Johnson and I kept that until the sprint. It was a long sprint.”
Berden held on for second ahead of Johnson.
The Derby City Cup was the final test for the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships which will be held on February 2nd and 3rd, 2013.
“It’s dry now, maybe in February it can be muddy. I think it has everything that it needs, it’s really fast now but if it rains or snows, that’s a different story.” Berden said of the Eva Bandman Park course. ‘I’m a little bit surprised that they don’t make it more American, it’s more a European course. It’s really good though.”
Now based in Colorado with his girlfriend Nicole Duke, Berden joined the Raleigh-Clement team for the 2012/2013 cyclocross season and is focused on racing in the United States though he would love to take on the upcoming World Cup in Koksijde. But history makes that possibility very remote.
“In two weeks there is Koksijde, I’m really good at it. I’m hoping that maybe they’ll pick me up, there are 10 people allowed, I think I’m 31 in the UCI ranking and 10th Belgian so normally they have to give me a selection but they don’t really care to do so. And I said a few years ago that the coach in Belgium is an asshole, that doesn’t help.” he finished with a laugh.
Berden’s next race will be JingleCross Rock, the three-day/three-day race weekend in Iowa City, IA starting this Friday.