By Gregor Brown in Loenhout, Belgium
Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) closed one of his best cyclo-cross races to date Tuesday in Europe with a 13th place in the Azencross race in Loenhout, Belgium. The USA rider again showed the strength that allowed him a seventh placing the day before in Middelkerke, but today he was up against a stronger field.
"I am elated to be up there again today. It was good, really good," said Powers after a notably fast race. "Every year I try to improve a little bit here [in Europe] and this year it is working."
Powers has fought for his space in Europe over the past years of trans-Atlantic trips. He is now to a point where he is comfortable amongst his rivals and his legs allow him to fight for top 10 finishes.
"I have been doing this for five years, and every year gets like three or four more places better," he said. "This does not happen over night, it takes so much time to get there. These guys are the best in the world and there is no where to go from here."
Powers fought with leaders, like eventual winner Zdenek Stybar, in the early part of the race. He gradually moved up through the field, but saw his compatriot Ryan Trebon (Kona) slip back due to back problems. The USA Champion suffered from a crash the day before in Middelkerke.
"Ryan was a good countryman; he pulled really hard for me one time and got me back on," he said. "It was a group effort; it is not like racing in the states."
The rider from Springfield, Massachusetts, acknowledged that his family and friends at home would be just as excited for his result in Loenhout. He will celebrate the New Year and then race twice more - Sint Niklaas and Tervuren - before travelling to Alicante, Spain, for a warm-weather training camp with Trebon. The duo will be back for the northern World Cup events, but they are uncertain for the round in Milan.