Jeremy Powers outduels Ryan Trebon in day 2 of Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival
Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) clawed back from an early deficit and rode away from Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) on the bell lap on Saturday to win the Java Johnny’s-Lionhearts Sunset Park race in Middletown, Ohio.
Tristan Schouten continued his best season in years for Cyclocrossracing.com, leaving a five-rider chase group midway through the hour-long race to solo in for third on the second of three days at the Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival.
A winding, confusing course
A day earlier, riders were barreling down off-camber turns in the dirt at top speed. There was none of that in the compact Sunset Park. A block of pavement led riders onto the constantly winding grass of the park and there were never more than 10 seconds of continuous terrain. Riders fought to keep rhythm through multiple sections of tight 180-degree turns and two sand switchbacks. Two extremely steep, 15-foot grassy ramps carried riders onto the 150-meter paved finish straight.
Powers and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) got the action started quickly, jumping out of the field on the first short lap and taking a small advantage into the barriers near the pit.
Trebon gave chase with Jake Wells (Hudz-Subaru), who seemed his strongest all year in the race’s opening laps. Friday’s winner drew even with the leaders ahead of the twisting set of 180s on the ridge slicing the park in two and the Kona rider dislodged Kabush and Wells with a smooth, on-line run through the most technical portion of the course.
“That course is so winding and confusing,” said Trebon, who couldn’t point to an acceleration that sprung him free early on. “I just went to the front and was riding faster.”
Saturday night fights
Powers jumped into the gap behind Trebon and caught him a furious lap later near the finish.
“It was hard but I wasn’t freaking out,” said Powers, who watched Trebon’s pedaling technique through the corners as he chased him down. “Both of us were pushing how fast we could go through the corners. I paid attention to what he was doing, watched his body language and reeled him in slowly.”
Much like they did a day earlier, Powers and Trebon went on to engage in a long two-man punch-out. Behind them, Schouten, Kabush, Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar) settled into the chase with Jake Wells stapled onto the back of the group. The leaders pushed their gap out to 15, 30 and finally 45 seconds over three laps, their short but constant accelerations pinning the pace.
Most laps, Powers would lead into the single set of barriers, bunny-hop the two blocks, and gap Trebon by two or three seconds. The former national champion from Bend, Oregon, would draw even on the paved start hill and take the lead into a series of snaking bends on the grass. And so it continued for a half hour.
“We were both attacking each other in every spot we saw weakness,” said Powers. “It was just a real throwdown.”
Schouten, who skipped Friday’s Stampede after driving nearly 10 hours late Thursday to reach Cincinnati, stayed in the chasing wheels until four laps to go when he initiated a series of brief, sharp accelerations in the two sets of 180s early in the circuit. The digs split the group, sending Kabush and Jake Wells packing, and he sank the final nail for Jones and Troy Wells on the rotten asphalt climb beyond the barriers.
“I was hurting. I didn’t really feel stronger, but I felt smoother. I thought I could go faster by myself, so I really attacked going into the technical parts,” said Schouten, who worked a four-day week after flying home to Chicago from the GP Gloucester on Monday.
“I did 10-second bursts. … For me, that was the longest I could go hard. The sections were so short that you would go as hard as you could and then you’re braking into the turns.”
Three seconds, eight seconds, game over
On the sharp end, Powers attacked Trebon on the finish straight as the lap card showed two to go. Trebon clawed back, flying through an open, downhill left-hander with his left leg extended from his bike.
“We were coming through and there were about two minutes where I was just suffering and that was enough for him to get a gap,” said Trebon.
The two traded leads, both suffering in the 90-plus-degree heat, until Powers, who said he ran out of gas on Friday, powered his way to a five-second lead out of the four 180-degree bends that led to a banked, uphill left-hand turn and the descent to the first of two trips through the sandpit switchbacks.
“We were seriously smashing each other, attacking through this section through that section, through the sand,” Powers said. “We had literally probably 15 attacks on each other.”
Powers dabbed a foot when he slid out in the corner, but held his advantage through the sand. When the top-ranked ’cross rider on the 2009-10 U.S. circuit again hopped the barriers ahead of Trebon, he pushed another few seconds into the gap.
“I hit him on the barriers over here,” Powers said. “I just kept getting one, two seconds every time I could and broke him down and slowly but surely I was able to get five, 10 seconds.”
Trebon drove his Kona Major Jake up the broken asphalt into a roller-coaster descent and loose right-hander before the start hill, but could not close on his rival. Powers again pushed the pace along the northern ridge, mashing a bigger gear than Trebon into the final sandpit, and when the Kona rider entered the two sharp climbs 200 meters from the line, both riders knew it was over.
“I knew that if I wasn’t ahead by the last 200 meters through the windy, up-down, off-camber section, I wasn’t going to be able to accelerate onto the pavement as fast, so that was the race. It was over before it was over,” Trebon said. “I knew when we got to the sand pit that I wasn’t going to get it. It was over with a minute left.”
Three laps after dumping an ice bottle into his helmet in the pits, Powers pulled onto the finish straight alone, zipped his black, short-sleeved skinsuit and pumped his right fist in the air.
“I just kept it steady and knew that if I kept the pressure on I could get a few seconds here and there,” said Powers, who won at Sunset Park for the third year in a row. “I made a big risk. That’s the thing when you’re really floored from racing hard, you come into those last couple corners and it’s really wishy-washy with the dry dirt. I just went as hard as I could through it and threw up a hail Mary, if you will.”
Schouten held his lead over the other chasers into the finish, and Kabush found a second wind to ride through Jones and Troy Wells for fourth. Jones, who appeared blown at the barriers two laps from the end, came in for fifth, a one-place improvement from Friday.
“I felt good, just kind of floating, letting the tires slip,” Schouten said. “I just stayed smooth and consistent and the gap kept growing.”
Sunday is the main event in Ohio, with Fairfield’s Harbin Park hosting a UCI C1 event with more than $9,000 and valuable UCI points — and start positioning — on the line. The park’s steep climbs will make it a rival with the Stampede for the weekend’s most challenging course.
“Ryan and I have had some good throw-downs there the last couple of years, so I look forward to another good race tomorrow and we’ll see what happens,” said Powers.
- 1. Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld
- 2. Ryan Trebon, Kona
- 3. Tristan Schouten, Iscorp Cycling Team
- 4. Geoff Kabush, Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
- 5. Christopher Jones, Rapha-Focus Cyclocross Team