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Powers opens national title reign, worlds build-up on strong footing

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — It’s too early to talk about worlds. Don’t even think about it.

Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) is off to a furious start. He’s won three times in four outings, opening up his title national defense campaign in mean fashion. He seems armed to the teeth. Is it too early to talk about worlds?

Powers prepared for this season a bit differently than he expected. Plainly, his Jelly Belly-Kenda road squad was left out of the Amgen Tour of California, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge, in Colorado. Suddenly, he had a lot more time on his hands and a lot less race days in his legs.

“This year, all of August was dedicated to training,” Powers told VeloNews. “I worked by myself and with the scooter to get ready for the events.”

It wasn’t racing against a handful of WorldTour teams — and the associated boost that comes with it — but it was good in that it allowed Powers consistency.

“You can control so much more when you’re home,” he said.

OK, fine. Let’s talk about worlds.

“I secretly would like to get a medal. If I was in the top five I would probably be happy with that,” he said. The hope isn’t so secret anymore, is it?

To get there, Powers will measure his progress at two World Cups in the Czech Republic in late October. Does he hope for a top five there?

“That would certainly be a real confidence booster for me,” Powers said. “That would be awesome for me, and if we’re not, then we go back to the drawing board.”

After the first World Cups, in Tabor and Plzen in late October, he’ll come home to race and then head to Belgium before Christmas for the Namur and Zolder World Cups and potentially the GP de Ster in Sint-Niklaas and the GVA Trophy Azencross in Loenhout. That’s a total of six major European races — six chances to see the speed of elite European racing and four opportunities for World Cup-level UCI points — before the worlds, to be held in early February in Louisville, Kentucky. Powers also has to race enough in the States — and do well, consistently — to earn the spot in the front row in Kentucky that he covets.

He sits 12th in the UCI rankings dating to the close of the 2011-12 season — the standings that will determine call-ups for the World Cup opener on October 21 in Plzen. Powers is 288 points behind Frenchman Francis Mourey, the final man on the front of the grid. After winning two of the first three C1 events on the calendar this fall, Powers is in line to move up the rankings, so long as he keeps his momentum into October.

To move up just a bit could make or break his race, but he knows “it’s easier said than done.”

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