PORTLAND, Ore. (VN) — It wasn’t the muck but the luck that did for Ryan Trebon in Oregon — the Kona rider was dueling mano a mano with Jeremy Powers only to break his rear derailleur with just two laps to go, leaving his Cannondale-Cyclocross.com rival free to claim a solo victory at Saturday’s opening round of the Stanley Portland Cup.
The 1.8-mile course at Portland International Raceway had largely dried out under the onslaught of 25-mph winds, so while there wasn’t a ton of the traditional Pacific Northwest mud at round seven of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, there was plenty of the ever-popular invisible hill to add difficulty, plus a few visible ones and a couple thousand corners just to keep things interesting.
U-23 series leader Luke Keough (Champion System-Keough Cyclocross) grabbed the hole shot, but Ryan Trebon (Kona) quickly displaced him at the front with Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko) on his wheel.
Powers briefly slipped into the lead on that first go-round, but Trebon snatched it back, with Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale), Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus), Barry Wicks (Kona) and Tim Johnson (Cannondale) all hovering within striking distance. Powers called the opening 45 minutes “brutal.”
Powers laid down another attack on a rolling, muddy BMX section, briefly taking a gap over Trebon and then bunny-hopping the barriers. Jones trailed slightly in third.
Powers and Trebon took six seconds over Jones as they hit the start-finish. But Jones overhauled them and then seized the lead, with Powers second and Trebon slightly distanced, some four seconds back in third.
Jones clung to a three-second advantage over Powers and Trebon going into the barriers next time around. The Rapha-Focus rider dismounted and ran them, as did Trebon, but Powers bunny-hopped them once again, as did Todd Wells (Specialized).
For his part, Wells had the accelerator floored at the head of the first chase group, 15 seconds back. “Tim was struggling a little bit and we just kept the gas on,” said Anthony. “Todd was drilling it the first two laps.”
Jones had extended his advantage slightly at the start-finish, but he couldn’t hold it — Trebon and Powers reeled him in and then the big Kona rider went to the front once again and opened the throttle.
“I thought, ‘Oh, man, this is bad,’” said Jones.
Next time through the barriers Trebon bobbled in a sloppy patch and slowed Jones, leaving Powers off the front alone with a three-second advantage and five laps to go. Trebon caught back on, but Jones did not, dangling five seconds back as Wells led the chase.
“Trebon crashed coming into the barriers and kind of stopped me and I couldn’t get back on,” said Jones, who added: “Jeremy was flying. He was just biding his time.”
Once again Powers rode the barriers while Trebon ran, with Jones gaining no ground. Behind, Wells was likewise planning to ride the barriers but slid out in a muddy patch in the corner leading to the planks and had to dismount.
With four laps to go the two leaders had 10 seconds on Jones, who was in danger of being absorbed by the Wells chase, which included Jesse Anthony (Cal Giant-Specialized) and Johnson. The lanky Trebon was actually gaining ground on Powers, despite dismounting to run the barriers.
Another lap gone and Johnson and Anthony launched from the chase group. Wells saw them go, but could do nothing. He eventually slid back to fifth.
“Halfway through the race I started going the other direction and that was pretty much my day,” Wells told VeloNews. “I didn’t feel like I was going any easier or slower or anything. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel that way.”
Up front, Powers left Trebon on a muddy section and took a gap of perhaps three seconds into the barriers.
It was a gap that would only grow larger, and quickly. Because behind, Trebon had broken his rear derailleur just after remounting from the barriers — he dropped the bike and stalked off the course, leaving the Cannondale rider in sole possession of the lead with Jones, Johnson and Anthony in pursuit.
Trebon told VeloNews that he saw no indication of a problem before his derailleur sheared off.
“I ran over the barriers, jumped back on my bike, took one pedal stroke and for some reason, I don’t know what happened, my rear derailleur got caught in the spokes and ripped off,” he said. “It’s always frustrating to lose races … to lose races at no fault of your own just happens, but I felt pretty good. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.”
One lap to go. Powers had a ridiculous lead over Jones, who pounded through the start-finish with Johnson right behind him. In front of his local sponsor, the Rapha man put in a big dig on the 1,000-meter section of asphalt that made up the start/finish area. Jones took a slight advantage over the national champion into the BMX section and powered away.
“I just kept my head down,” said Powers of the closing lap.
It was, of course, a race for second. Powers was long gone — he had time to exchange slaps with course-side spectators before punching a fist skyward as he coasted across the line for the victory. Jones followed for second at 29 seconds, his best USGP finish to date, with Johnson third at 38 seconds.
“I thought I was going to have to sprint against Tim in the world’s slowest sprint, but I kind of got rid of him there at the end,” said Jones. “It was more like a Lamaze class: Just breathe, just breathe. I wasn’t really thinking about (Johnson).”
“That was a shocker,” Johnson said. “If you go to a race where it’s fast and smooth and there’s a lot of drafting and you have bad legs, you can fake it. I was in no-man’s land. I was having a brutal day and everybody else looked like they were flying and not even pedaling that hard. I was in my own little world of hurt.
“The first few laps were so hard. I hate excuses, I really, really do — but I felt like shit.”
The national champ lost the series lead and will enter Sunday’s finale tied with Powers for the overall.
“I definitely had a gift from Ryan,” said Johnson, who hopes to come back strong on Sunday.
“Today was an aberration,” he added. “I’m glad it’s over.”
Jones, meanwhile, was glad to have performed so well in Portland.
“Yeah, it was huge,” he said. “We’ve been kinda targeting this all year, so it was cool,” said Jones. “I was happy to come back and salvage second.”
Anthony slotted in for fourth and was satisfied to show a glimpse of form at the end of a tough season.
“It was the first time I’ve had that much fun in a while,” he said. “The focus my whole season has been to ride strong at the end of the year – kind of come back – and I’ve been training hard and it’s great to see it pay off here.”
- 1. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com)
- 2. Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus)
- 3. Tim Johnson (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com)
- 4. Jesse Anthony (Cal Giant-Specialized)
- 5. Todd Wells (Specialized)
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.
— Online editor at large Patrick O’Grady contributed to this report.