One week after capturing his first ever US cyclo-cross national championship, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) lined up for the penultimate cyclo-cross World Cup round in Liévin, France today. The 28-year-old already showed off his brand new team kit through various social media this week, but on Sunday afternoon he planned to honour the jersey in the star-studded field of a World Cup race.
The post-championships activities took its toll, though, and Powers lacked the punch to claim a best-ever result. His 14th place is a solid base to build on for his last two races of the season: the final World Cup round in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands next week and the cyclo-cross world championships in Koksijde, Belgium in two weeks.
The recently crowned American champion has mixed emotions regarding his performance in the north of France. "It wasn't bad after a week of celebrating, no sleep for a couple of days and then flying in to Europe. To be honest, I felt like crap and thought about maybe not racing Liévin," Powers said.
"In the last few days I told myself to focus like I've never done before. I must do honour to the jersey. Yesterday I rode on this course for three hours. I've got to keep riding," Powers said.
On Sunday afternoon, shortly after the 60-minute race, Powers realized that he had just missed a golden opportunity to turn his good form from the national championships into a massive result.
"It stinks because this course suits me really well. There were probably about 50 people at my house to celebrate and I can't disappoint them. Then again, I lacked the percentage that was needed here. I'm aiming to improve on my best-ever result in a World Cup round (10th at World Cup #1 Plzen). I want to do at least one better and finish eighth or ninth," Powers said.
Next Sunday in Hoogerheide there's a last opportunity to improve on his tenth place from the first World Cup round. Last year Powers finished a very distant 36th place and the year before that he was nearly lapped with his 51st place. Four years ago, when the world championships were held in Hoogerheide, Powers finished 35th in the race that was won by Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).
"Today I could almost touch him when I arrived at the finish. He finished [two positions] ahead of me," Powers said. Albert didn't live up to the expectations with his 12th place in Liévin but he is one of the top favorites to capture the rainbow jersey in Koksijde on January 29, 2012.
The sandy course in the coastal municipality of Koksijde benefits Albert a lot whereas Powers isn't quite in the same position. "I'm not naturally gifted in it. I can ride in the sand but we don't have it too much in our racing. There's still some time to work on it and I hope to do well," said Powers.