By Tom Moran
Race No. 4 of the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross on Sunday saw Katerina Nash (Luna) repeat Saturday’s victory and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) continue his tradition of a Sunday win in Kentucky’s Derby City Cup for the third consecutive year.
Like other forms of bicycle racing, cyclocross is largely a battle with gravity. The object is to propel one’s body across the surface of the planet in the most efficient way possible. What Louisville Champions Park lacks in elevation, it makes up for in slippery, soggy grass, old sand traps and tricky transitions onto the old cart paths.
The greatest elevation of the venue, a defunct golf course, comes atop the 10-foot-tall “Green Monster,” a flyover bridge that came to roost there because of a fact-finding trip to the 2007 UCI cyclocross world championships by local race promoter Mike Hewitt of 2 Wheel Sports.
Hewitt told Mark Luking of the Louisville Bicycle Club about seeing thousands of crazed Belgians cheering on racers at the worlds. Luking, the club’s racing vice president, assembled a team of volunteers and built a solid set of stairs that lead to a steep, carpeted ramp. The bridge allows for a spectator-friendly, figure-8 course layout.
While Sunday’s spongy course was not quite as slow or as challenging as it had been for the previous day’s competition, it still offered plenty of adversity to the hundreds of racers from more than a dozen states who came to compete in one of the best cyclocross events in the south-central United States.
In the final event of the action-packed weekend, Tim Johnson led an historic team sweep of the podium, joined by his Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Jamey Driscoll and Jeremy Powers. While the Luna team has swept the podium on the women’s side, it may be the first time a men’s team had done likewise.
“I’ve been doing the USGP since the get-go, but I don’t think I’ve seen it done before,” said Stu Thorne, manager of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com.
Blasting into the first of 10 laps, Johnson, fully recovered from his separated shoulder in the first race of the season, bridged up to the holeshot artist Powers. Powers, nursing a chest cold, DNF’d on Saturday, but gave it his all on Sunday.
“He drilled it early,” said Thorne. “You might as well use up your matches while you can.”
Series leader Ryan Trebon (Kona) was moving up on one of the few straightaways on the first lap when he crossed wheels with another rider and went down hard. After getting his wits and bike back together, Trebon gave chase and started picking off the 30 or so riders that had passed him.
But the comeback fell short as the series leader hit the deck again.
“I must have damaged my bike on that first fall, because when I went into a turn I folded my front wheel and hit my head pretty hard,” he said. That second crash forced Trebon to retire.
Back at the front Johnson took command, putting on a clinic with crisp hurdling and efficient bike carries. Where others would carry their bikes up a muddy set of stairs, the 32-year-old Johnson exhibited his experience by gently setting his bike down briefly to let it roll where he could.
Driscoll joined Powers and they worked together, well clear of a chase group. Another 30 seconds back, Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) led the main chase of five, eventually escaping from that group to take fourth and the SRAM Most Aggressive Rider prize.
Ahead, Johnson repeated last year’s Sunday win at this venue, coming to the line with time to slap hands with the crowds gathered along the finishing-straight barriers. Driscoll took second and Powers rounded out the podium in third.
Driscoll and Trebon ended the day tied on points, but Driscoll took the series lead based on the day’s finish.
Nash nails it again
The women’s race was a replay of Saturday’s as Nash powered away from the women’s field.
Once again, Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) took the hole shot and led over the initial set of barriers, followed closely by the Luna trio of Nash, Georgia Gould and Alison Dunlap.
Years of cross country skiing and cycling have given Nash an aerobic capacity that few can match. The 1998 and 2002 Olympic skier took the lead halfway through the first lap and steadily pulled away.
Behind Nash, a pitched battle for the remaining podium spots shaped up as Amy Dombroski (Richard Sachs) worked her way up through the field to join Gould and Dunlap. The three of them rode together for the rest of the 40-minute race, attacking each other numerous times.
Road racing is part of Dunlap’s extensive résumé — she rode in the 1996 Olympics — while Dombroski’s sprint was an unknown. Despite sailing wide into the final turn and brushing up against the course tape, Dombroski still managed to take the three-up sprint for second. Gould took fourth and Sydor was fifth.
• When he isn’t racing cyclocross at a national level, Driscoll is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Vermont. “I just signed a deal to ride for Jamis-Sutter Home on the the roadnext summer,” he said.
• Dunlap didn’t get the silver, but she did earn the SRAM Most Aggressive Rider prize. “I love tactical racing,” said the 40-year-old Dunlap, who retired in 2005 but returned to ’cross racing this season.
Women’s results | ( Men’s results )
- 1. Katerina Nash, Luna
- 2. Amy Dombroski, Richard Sachs-RGM Watches-Radix
- 3. Alison Dunlap, Luna
- 4. Georgia Gould, Luna
- 5. Alison Sydor, Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
- 6. Susan Butler, Monavie-Cannondale.com
- 7. Kari Studley, Velo Bella
- 8. Kristin Wentworth, Planet Bike
- 9. Meredith Miller, Team Tibco
- 10. Kaitlin Antonneau, Planet Bike
- 11. Devon Haskell, BH Usa
- 12. Kimberly Flynn, Vantaggio-Specialized
- 13. Wendy Williams, Hudz/Subaru
- 14. Elizabeth Frye, Boone Velo
- 15. Nicole Borem, DRT Consulting
- 16. Lisa Strong, Natural Grocers p/b XP Companies
- 17. Marne Smiley, Scott Bikes
- 18. Ashley James, Team Kenda
- 19. Robin Williams, Mercy-Specialized
- 20. Julie Wilson, Team Dayton Bicycling
- 21. Emily Benson, DRT Racing
- 22. Lauri Webber, Secret Henry’s Team
- 23. Dayna Deuter, Church of the Big Ring
- 24. Therese ( Teri) Meek, Bikeclicks-Team Louisville
- 25. Anne Schwartz, Flying Rhino Cycling Club
- 26. Rebecca Finley, Vanderkitten
- 27. Kristin Jo Markham, Team Kenda
Men’s results | Click for: ( Women’s results )
- 1. Timothy Johnson, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com
- 2. Jamey Driscoll, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com
- 3. Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com
- 4. Geoff Kabush, Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
- 5. Christopher Jones, Team Champion System
- 6. Barry Wicks, Kona
- 7. Nicholas Weighall, California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized
- 8. Jesse Anthony, Team Jamis Bikes
- 9. Davide Frattini, Team Fuji
- 10. Mark Lalonde, Planet Bike
- 11. Brian Matter, Team Geargrinder
- 12. Adam Mcgrath, Thule-Van Dessel
- 13. Adam Bergman, Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team
- 14. Justin Robinson, California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized
- 15. Troy Wells, Team Clif Bar
- 16. Travis Livermon, Cannondale
- 17. Dave Hackworthy, Bianchi-Grand Performance
- 18. Braden Kappius, Clif Bar
- 19. Jack Hinkens, Team Plan C
- 20. Joshua Berry, Team Bode
- 21. Bryan Fawley, Park Place Dealerships
- 22. Eric Muehl, Industry Nine
- 23. Mitchell Kersting, Bob’s Red Mill-Rocky Mountain
- 24. Joseph Schmalz, KCCX-Verge
- 25. Eric Wondergem, Hup United
- 26. Ben Popper, HRS-Rock Lobster
- 27. Will Black, Moots
- 28. Andrew Reardon, Starbrite Carwash-Moab
- 29. Andrew Llewellyn, Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team
- 30. Noah Metzler, Vo2 Sports
- 31. Pat Lemieux, Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team
- 32. Christopher Bogedin, Wolverine Sports Club
- 33. Nathan Rice, Michelob Ultra-Big Shark
- 34. Brad Cole, KCCX-Verge
- 35. Isaac Neff, Alderfer Bergen
- 36. Kip Spaude
- 37. Clayton Omer, Calistoga Racing Team
- 38. Bill Marshall Jr, KCCX-Vverge
- 39. Robert Kendall, Barbasol
- 40. Michael Hemme, Courage
- 41. Matthew Davis, Mad Duck Cyclery
- 42. Matthew Willing, ABRC-Mars Hill College
- 43. Derek Strong, Natural Grocers p/b XP Companies Cycling
- 44. Kat Statman, Pioneer Racing
- 45. Zachary Edwards, DRT Racing
- 46. Jacob Virostko, Biowheels-Reece-Campbell Racing
- 47. Dustin Greer, Ohio Valley Velo-Maxxis
- 48. William Street, Sisu Custom Cycles