Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) won a third national cyclocross championship on Monday. The 31-year-old did it despite one of the deepest men’s field in recent memory, a heavy mud course, and a last-minute race postponement that rocked the Austin, Texas event.
“I was definitely blown,” said Powers. “I can’t believe I actually won. I was looking at this and thinking it was going to be very hard to win. These are unique conditions and something I’ve always struggled with to win.
“There was a lot of people saying other riders were going to to do well here. … The only guy I could gauge was Jonathan [Page], and that’s hard. … This course being as technical as it was fell back into my wheel house.”
Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) took the holeshot. Immediately at the end of the start straight, a crash caught out Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins-Specialized) and several other notables, like Allen Krughoff (Noosa Pro Cyclocross) and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar).
Powers and Jonathan Page (Fuji-Spy) quickly moved off the front as Zach McDonald (Cyclocross Project 2015) chased alone. Trebon led a group of six riders. Out of that group, Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund) broke free, chasing down McDonald toward the end of the first lap.
As they entered the twisty, slippery corners early on the second lap, the elastic began to stretch as Powers asserted himself.
The defending champion’s advantage over Page was quickly out to 10 seconds.
“I flatted directly out of the pit,” said Page. “That was the race. I tried to close it. There’s only so many … For me to catch up I have to go even faster, and make mistakes. I only really made one in the last little bit.”
Danny Summerhill (K-Edge-Felt) emerged from the group behind to chase, and soon catch, Hyde.
Before long, the chase group included McDonald, Summerhill, Dan Timmerman (House Industries-Simple Human), and Hyde, all battling for the final spot on the podium. Ahead, Powers and Page were riding their own races, set in first and second, respectively.
McDonald, however, was not content to bring along his rivals, and rode away on the ragged edge of control. Hyde followed, but was forced to chase alone with four laps remaining.
At the front, Powers’ advantage had stretched to 16 seconds over Page.
“I just stayed steady,” said Powers “It’s easy to go into the red. … I was able to open up more time later. That was how I planned the race.
“At the end I started to ride some sections I hadn’t before and get a rhythm.”
Hyde took a fresh bike from a pit, and while he was riding that slower section of track, Summerhill opted to stay on course and pass the JAM Fund rider for fourth.
The battle for fourth and fifth raged on into the final lap, and Summerhill succeeded in getting a gap, riding away to fourth. Behind, Timmerman outfoxed Hyde for fifth.
Powers, Page, and McDonald each rode a lonely final lap to finish first, second, and third, respectively.
Chris Case contributed to this report from Austin.