Very few US riders get attention in the European-dominated 'cross scene. Jonathan Page, and current US champion Ryan Trebon are the exception, but a little known rider was turning heads at the GP der Ster in St. Niklaas, Belgium. Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) caught the eye of Belgian television with his signature bunny-hopping manoeuvre. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé talked with him after the tough race where he finished just outside the top-10.
"I do it [bunny hopping] because it enables me to gain ground on the other riders. But today the course was tough on the bikes… and on the legs," Powers laughed. Powers came to Belgium as part of a camp organised by USA national coach Geoff Proctor. "I started doing [the camp] when I was only 19; this is like my third or fourth year, but actually I started doing it when I was younger."
The youngsters suffer a lot in Sint-Niklaas as they need to race together with the professional riders like Sven Nys (Rabobank), who won this year's event. "I got lapped here on my first year," Powers admits. "But now I'm twentieth in Diegem and twelfth over here; there's a progression, you get older and you learn a lot."
It's not easy for most American riders to get an appearance, let alone a break, in the ultra-competitive European scene. In addition to the competitive nature of the Euro rounds, riders also face to problem of hospitality and assistance in what are generally non-English speaking countries - but things are improving as the popularity and, importantly, the competitiveness of American riders grows.
"I was living on my own and only returned home for the National Championships and it just ended up not being a good trip for me. I was alone too much," Powers explained of his first year in Europe. "It's better now as we've got some more guys from the States. I'm a year older, you get more mature and the racing is a little bit easier as well. The transition to Belgium is also a bit easier as you've been doing it so much. With Geoff's camp the opportunities made [coming to Europe] possible. It' a lot of work though, you have to want to do it... like everything."
To read the full feature on Jeremy Powers, click here.