IOWA CITY, Iowa (VN) — It was redemption Saturday for Ryan Trebon at Jingle Cross Rock as the Kona-FSA rider stood on a late race attack to top Todd Wells (Specialized) in the weekend’s second of three UCI races.
Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) clung to third after crashing off the front of the race with three laps to go.
The podium was rife with debate over Trebon cutting the course when barrier tape was missing early in the race. The eventual winner waited for his group to catch on before continuing.
From cold to colder, hard to harder
Saturday’s course used much of the grass criterium section from Friday’s night’s opener in Iowa City. The addition of a 200-vertical-foot run-up in the mud was the most significant change of the day — and one that pushed riders into survival mode as early as the first lap. The deep, slick mud brought riders to the ground and sent heart rates over the redline every lap.
A pair of stables on the fairgrounds property — one with a straight, shallow sandpit and the other with four tight hairpins — blasted the soundtrack to “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
The temperatures neared 40 degrees Fahrenheit at start time, with clear skies and a moderate wind facing riders in a number of sections. Course-side temps dipped near freezing by the end of the hourlong race and the changing course conditions were at work as Jones found himself entangled with a tree.
Wells, Wicks and Trebon
Troy Wells (Clif Bar) took the hole shot over his older brother Todd to open the action, but Barry Wicks (Kona) followed his podium from Friday night with a solid ride through the criterium turns to lead through a 150-foot slick, off-camber traverse to the run-up. When the front of the race topped out on Mt. Krumpit for the first time, it wasn’t Wicks but Trebon taking the orange and purple over the summit on the point.
Trebon, who goes 6-feet-5-inches, used the long run to his advantage all day. At the top of the first ascent, the leaders were Trebon and Wicks, Jones and the Wells brothers. The status quo continued for three laps with Trebon taking big cracks at the group a day after crashing out on a technical descent.
“I wouldn’t have to take a risk on the downhill or anything,” said Trebon, who eased off the gas on the descent until the final lap.
A Todd Wells surge in the grassy criterium almost 20 minutes into the race cut his brother, Wicks and Jones loose. The two leaders punched it up on front for two laps before Jones used his roadie skills to claw back. Trebon continued to use the run to his benefit, literally cutting his rivals’ times in half over the 20 seconds off the bike.
Off course and off the gas … for a while
Inside five laps to go, Trebon led the group into the criterium corners where the course tape was missing from the outside of the first turn. The former national ’cross and mountain bike champion rode through the opening, effectively cutting two corners out of the course. Realizing his error, Trebon waited for Wells and Jones to catch him before turning up the gas.
“It was open and I went straight,” said Trebon, who was not certain what to do. “I just waited for the group and jumped back in.
“I did cut a corner off the course, but it wasn’t intentional. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Are you supposed to jump back on from where you went off? There was no course tape to close it off and it wasn’t intentional.”
Wells joked about it after the podium presentation. “Oh, man, that guy. If he’s not dropping out of the race, he’s cutting the course. He decided to just cut through and wait for us to come by, have a little sandwich, a rest and jump back in.”
On the serious side, Wells said that Trebon wasn’t to be stopped on a course that suited him so well.
“The way he was going up that run-up, he was going to win anyway, but it would have been nice to have a little more buffer,” he said.
Chris Jones on ice
A lap later, Jones came through the grass on the sharp end of the lead group, rode smoothly through the series of four open, 180-degree corners, and attacked hard. The effort produced a quick four-second gap, but when the new UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis road recruit cut the corner leading to the off-camber section, the re-freezing surface sent him sliding.
“Ryan was kind of waiting for Barry and when they get the numerical advantage it’s bad for Todd and me. So I decided I would try my luck on the pedaling section,” said Jones. “On that lap I saw that I had a little gap so I tried to maximize it and took maybe one too many risks … I knew that I had to get as big of a gap as possible.”
Trebon sensed his chance to seal Jones’ coffin and slip away from Wells. He attacked on the off-camber and again on the run-up 20 seconds later. Wells came over the summit almost 20 seconds in arrears and Trebon was on his own up front for a lap and a half.
“It was a fast downhill and it was pretty bumpy,” said Trebon of his attack with more than 10 minutes left in the race. “Todd’s pretty fast on that and if I didn’t have to risk it and I could get a good gap it was all right.”
Jones was held up by a tree when he went down and was forced to run 40 feet before remounting due to the angle and slickness of the off-camber. Wicks was chasing at just 10 seconds behind and Jones had to refocus quickly to maintain his podium.
Trebon runs up the win
Trebon kept the accelerator down on the front and Wells’ mouth hung open, his face carrying a look of focused pain at the start of the bell lap. The Specialized rider bunny-hopped the barriers and upped his pace on the run in the final circuit, but could not close down what had become a 20-plus-second advantage for the leader.
“He was running up that thing at least twice as fast as I was,” said Wells of Trebon’s advantage on the run-up. “I really had to let it run on the descent. Eventually the elastic was going to snap and he was going to keep that gap that he was getting on the run-up.”
Wells was able to hold off Jones, however, despite the Rapha man’s acumen on the grass.
“I felt like I was going pretty fast on that downhill,” said Wells. “I was able to put some time into Jones, so I was hoping to get to that downhill first and that’s what happened.”
Jones kept Wicks at bay to secure his second podium of the weekend after finishing third to Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Wicks Friday night. Driscoll was absent Saturday, choosing to rest his legs ahead of the C1 main event Sunday afternoon.
About that detour
Did Trebon break the rules with his departure from the course? Dot Abbott, UCI commissaire and president of the race jury, declined to comment on the record. But the UCI rulebook (1.2.064) states:
“Unless ordered so to do by a police officer, (riders) may not leave the prescribed course and shall not be able to claim any error in this respect, nor any other motive such as, for example, incorrect directions by any person, badly placed or non-existent signs, etc.
“Conversely, should the rider take a shortcut giving an advantage, he shall be penalized in accordance with article 12.1.040.15, notwithstanding any other disciplinary measures that may be provided for.”
The penalty for gaining advantage via the shortcut in a one-day event is elimination. But Trebon waited for the group in which he was riding after leaving the course, effectively eliminating any advantage he took from the incident.
One USA Cycling national commissaire, who declined to be identified, suggested that Trebon’s waiting for the others made his course-cutting “a non-issue.”
“From an official’s standpoint, he did the right thing. It became a non-factor. That’s a pro move by a professional. He recognized he’d done something wrong and he did what he could to right the wrong.”
Editor’s note: Brian Holcombe is a reporter with VeloNews. He covers all things racing in the U.S. and has been accused of attacking too much on the VN lunch ride.