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Christian Heule takes day 1 at 2011 GP of Gloucester

Heule leads Powers on day 1. Photo: Wil Matthews.
Heule leads Powers early in the race. Photo: Wil Matthews.

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (VN) —Christian Heule (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) sprinted to a narrow victory over Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) in day one of the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester.

Heule, a four-time elite Swiss champion, is the newest addition to the Massachusetts-based team, replacing Powers, who left the squad to join Rapha-Focus this season. Their friendly sporting rivalry was especially delicious at Gloucester, long nicknamed “The New England Worlds.”

The deep multinational field battled from the start under cloudy skies and muggy conditions at Stage Fort Park on the Atlantic. Canadian Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) took the holeshot, followed by Powers and England’s Ian Field (Hargroves Cycling). The popular Barry Wicks (Kona), showing cyclocross form he has rarely displayed in the last several seasons, led the lead group up the steep paved hill to the start-finish line the first time.

Garrigan blew up but Field kept his position near the front and opened it up on lap two; he was soon joined off the front by Gloucester favorite Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), to the delight of the local crowd.

The pair was able to eke out only a handful of seconds ahead of a gang that included Powers, Wicks, Heule and a third Cannondale teammate, Vermont’s Jamie Driscoll.

Johnson, often a winner at Gloucester, was not on his best form, saying later that it took every bit of his energy to ride as aggressively as he did on the opening laps. After he and Field were reeled in — thanks mostly to Powers’ efforts — Johnson began a slow backward slide through the field. Field, however, remained an animator at the front the whole day.

Powers continued to attack the lead group, eventually pulling away with Heule in the final two laps.

‘When in doubt, lead it out’

Powers pulled out all the stops in the final two go-rounds, charging the course’s run-up, a new flyover and the many mud sections created by rain Friday. In the final half lap he managed to get a few bike lengths’ gap on the Swiss champ, but made several small mistakes and lost some momentum after almost overshooting one late corner. That allowed the tenacious Heule to regain contact just before the pair hit the final paved finish hill.

Powers led out the sprint, but Heule was clearly quicker on the uphill finale and took the win by several bike lengths.

“It was a very difficult final lap,” Heule said. “If Jeremy had not made a couple of mistakes, I would not have caught him.”

Powers agreed. “I dabbed once or twice, really small dabs. That comes from being on the rivet. I was trying to spring Christian before we got to the sprint.”

When he hit the pavement with Heule nearly on his wheel, all Powers could do was open up the sprint, as he explained to Liquigas-Cannondale road pro Ted King, who completed his final ‘cross race of the season Saturday.

“When in doubt, lead it out,” nodded King, who lives in nearby New Hampshire.

“Yeah, it’s all I could do,” Powers said.

Field held on for third on the day. The Kent, England, resident is wrapping up a three-week race trip to the States on Sunday. He’s been traveling with Garrigan and Saturday’s womens winner, Helen Wyman, hitting races on the East Coast and racking up some critical UCI points before heading back to Europe.

Quick results

  • 1. Christian Heule (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
  • 2. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus)
  • 3. Ian Field (Hargroves Cycling)

Complete results

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