Ryan Trebon says he has the legs to beat the odds.
“’Cross is not rocket science,” the Kona-FSA rider told VeloNews this week. “If I have the legs I can beat them all. If I have a bad day they might win. That’s how it is.”
The chips are stacked against the reigning U.S. champion heading into this weekend’s third round of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, held at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, New Jersey. Trebon missed the last three weeks of racing while recovering from a nasty crash at the second USGP weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 25.
After winning the previous day’s event, Trebon crossed wheels early in the race and crashed hard on his head. After jumping back on his rig and chasing, Trebon said his front wheel, which was broken from the initial crash, buckled in a corner. He endo’d headfirst into a course-tape pole.
“I woke up the next day and was sore all over,” Trebon said. “I had headaches that whole week.”
While he was out, his rivals — Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com threesome of Jeremy Powers, Jamey Driscoll and Tim Johnson — took control of the domestic ’cross scene. Cannondale won both days of the Cycle-Smart weekend in Northampton. The men in green took five of six available podium spots in the November 1-2 races in Boulder.
Those wins, stacked atop Cannondale’s previous victories at CrossVegas and in Cincinnati and Toronto, marked a power shift in domestic cyclocross. Powers and Driscoll are tied atop USA Cycling’s rankings, Driscoll is in the white leader’s jersey for the USGP and Johnson is in the red leader’s jersey for the North American Cyclocross Trophy series.
Cannondale is up, Kona-FSA is down
Johnson, the 2007 U.S. champion, said he couldn’t be more pleased.
“I remember a few years when (Trebon) and an equally strong (Kona teammate) Barry Wicks used to beat up on me,” said Johnson, who missed much of the early season due to a shoulder separation. “I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end.”
Credit Cannondale’s dominance to strong legs and teamwork. Johnson, Powers and Driscoll are not afraid to use power in numbers to overwhelm the opposition. Powers is the fast starter and sprinter. Johnson is the technical maestro and tactician. Driscoll starts slower but has the intuition to attack at the right time.
“It just so happens that all of us have been riding really well lately,” Johnson said. “We can race a full-speed race or a tactical race. We have a lot of range, and that gives all of us more confidence.”
Trebon said he isn’t shaking in his cleats. He and Wicks are coming into the weekend firing on all cylinders, he said. The last time he finished a race against the Cannondale team, which was day 1 in Kentucky, he won.
“I get frustrated with them sometimes — it’s that lame East Coast stuff,” Trebon said. “But if I have the fitness I know I have a pretty good shot.”
And Trebon won’t be alone in trying to take on the Cannondale train. Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) is back, having missed two weekends due to illness. Todd Wells (Specialized) is also making his return to the cyclocross scene. Wells missed the first half of the season while recovering from a cyst that required surgery.
The pro men’s race starts at 3:00 p.m. The pro women go off at 1:45.
Nash leads the charge
Leading the charge in the women’s race will be Luna’s Katerina Nash, who won both USGP rounds in Louisville and currently leads the series.
Nash is heading back to the United States after racing the third round of the UCI World Cup on November 8 in Nommay, France. American Katie Compton (Planet Bike) won that race. Compton will not be in New Jersey, and is instead staying in Europe until nationals.
Nash was in the hunt for the podium in Nommay, but lost the sprint for third and ended up fifth. Nash barley missed the podium in the previous weekend’s European Championships, held in Hoogstraden, Belgium.
Nash will be joined by her Luna teammates Georgia Gould and Alison Dunlap, who is coming off her victory at the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race in Michigan. That victory marked Dunlap’s first major mountain bike win since coming back from her retirement in 2005.