ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Jeremy Powers came in to the world championships with high expectations after a successful season capped off by his third-straight U.S. national cyclocross championship. Powers enjoyed a front-row starting position on Sunday, and the course at Zolder seemed fit for Powers’ strengths.
Powers’ result — he finished 34th, 11:21 down — did not match his expectations. Powers ran into trouble immediately, and although he bounced back, he was never able to regain the front of the race.
“I slipped my pedal at the start, and I was immediately first to third row. That was not ideal by any stretch,” he told VeloNews after the race. “Then I settled in, but it just turned out not to be my best day. I don’t know. I’m not pumped about it, I definitely wanted more from myself.”
The trouble didn’t stop there. Later in the first lap, Powers tangled with his American teammate Travis Livermon, losing even more time.
“That was unfortunately Travis Livermon, who I apologized to during that moment,” said Powers. “I was just going wide and coming across and I ended up T-boning into him. That didn’t make it any better for any of us. It was just a bunch of us running into each other for that first lap.”
Powers bounced from group to group during the middle of the race, and at one point was riding in no-man’s land. But he struggled to make up time on the leaders, and eventually settled into the mid-30’s.
The sandy course in Zolder usually drains well, but the torrential rain that fell on Saturday left the course a muddy mess on Sunday. Powers said that the unusually sloppy conditions didn’t help his bid to gain places.
“It was definitely hard,” he said. “The course was changing, but the ruts were super deep for our race. A lot of these steep bits hurt me, even more than at the World Cup last time, just that extra climb. Doing that eight times was hard on me. My back, specifically, was killing me today.”
By all accounts, Powers has had an impressive season, including a sixth place at the World Cup race at CrossVegas — one of the best ever in the elite men’s race by an American — and a fourth national title a few weeks ago.
But he told VeloNews on Sunday that he struggled to maintain his form and focus late in the season. Powers’s results on the World Cup circuit reflect his comments. Powers was 31st at last weekend’s World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, and 23rd at the previous weekend’s World Cup in France. He finished the season ranked 26th in the series.
“When I think back to Rochester, or even before that, it’s just a long time ago,” he said. “It always is. I wouldn’t say things are bad. It’s just not a great result for me, period.”
Powers will finish his season with a race in Japan, but said after the championship race that he was ready for a break.
“I can tell when it’s time, and it’s definitely time,” he said. “It’s February.”