FORT COLLINS, Colorado (VN) — U.S. national champion Jeremy Powers came from behind on Saturday to win day one of the Smartwool Cup in Fort Collins.
The Colorado race was the second stop on the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross circuit.
Powers (Rapha-Focus) chased down solo breakaway Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) with a lap and a half to go and then beat him to the line for the victory. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) out-kicked Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Chipotle) for third.
Powers said he thought there were two laps to go as he caught Trebon.
“As soon as I made contact with him he sat up and I hit it as hard as I could, right in the back here. And then I just kept on the front as long as I could,” he said. “And when I came through I thought it was two but it was one to go … at that point, I just went as hard as I could, as fast as I could. It was a hard last lap, for sure.”
First at the finish, Powers was first out of the blocks, too. He and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Berden and Summerhill soon separated themselves from the field, and then as the sun broke through the clouds for the first time all day, Trebon jumped across the gap with Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) in tow.
With the course drying to perfection, it became a tacky, tactical affair.
By the end of lap two, Trebon had a six-second lead over Powers while Johnson stuck to his former teammate’s wheel like Belgian tape.
A succession of chasers — first Summerhill, then Berden, then Powers — tried to reel Trebon back in. But by lap three, he had a full 20 seconds.
Eventually Powers set off on his own in pursuit of the lanky Cannondale rider. But after another lap the gap stood firm.
Powers was riding the run-up and distancing the chase group, opening a 25-second gap and slowly pulling back the race leader. Another lap down and the gap was 15 seconds.
With Trebon riding his own race off the front and Powers slowly working his way up to him, the battle for third was the most intense of the day. Summerhill, Kabush, Johnson, Berden, Tristan Schouten (Optum Cycling-Kelly Benefits), Mitch Hoke (Clif Bar) and a trailing Jamie Driscoll (Cannondale) rode in formation, lap after lap.
The gap between Trebon and Powers held steady at eight seconds. The gap to third? It blossomed to more than a minute as each rider in the chase group sat in line, no one eager to attack.
With the afternoon sun beating down and his skinsuit unzipped, Powers methodically rode back onto Trebon’s wheel. The race was finally on.
With one lap to go Powers took the lead. With a half a lap left he had five seconds — Trebon had cracked. And as he crossed the line, the national champion was all alone.
“I definitely don’t want to go to a sprint with Ryan,” Powers said. “It’s hard to recover at altitude, so when I was all in I was for sure all in. … I had to keep going.”
Trebon, meanwhile, said he was having some difficulty clipping in.
“I was having trouble with my pedals and Jeremy was coming on strong in the last couple laps. So, I got second,” said Trebon. “He’s got a little on me at this point in the season, so hopefully I had a strong showing the second half.”
The sprint for third was a painful two-up affair between Summerhill and Berden, with the crafty veteran taking it at the line.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for Sunday’s reports from Fort Collins.