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American heads second-year Rapha-Focus squad
Rapha-Focus's newest addition Jeremy Powers is well on his way to a strong season having recently placed fourth to a trio of Europeans at the UCI C1-ranked CrossVegas in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The 28-year-old American is hoping to put forth an all-round strong season of cyclo-cross with his full attention placed on winning the US national championships held in January in Madison, Wisconsin.
"I don't want to retire without winning a national title," Powers told Cyclingnews. "But if I only win one, I would be happy with that, just to win one time. It is strong on the radar and it is something that I work for every year."
Powers is not retiring from cyclo-cross anytime soon. He signed a two-year contract with Rapha-Focus, having raced the three previous seasons competing for another top US-based team, Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com, where he counted other top US riders Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll as teammates.
Powers was well on his way to a potential US title last year, racing to the finish line against the eventual winner Todd Wells (Specialized Racing). An untimely crash, however, forced him off his bike in the closing laps and he ended up settling for third place.
"The national championship is a race that so many people remember because it is a jersey and a title," Powers said. "Last year I said I would be happy with winning what I had won before nationals because it took the pressure off. I can constantly refine what I have done. But realistically I crashed two years in a row, and it wasn't my time to win nationals.
"I am one of the youngest guys that is racing at the front of these races," he said. "I doesn't seem like it's been my time yet. I've gone into them in good position to win, in good fitness to win, won races before the nationals. It was devastating not win. I was so upset that I lost that race that I had trained so hard for, had good fitness, and had one little slip-up."
Prior to the national championships, Powers put forth stellar performances sewing up overall titles at the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP), where he won races at the Planet Bike Cup, Derby City Cup and Portland Cup, and the now defunct North American Cyclo-cross Trophy (NACT), where he won BayState Cyclocross, Colorado Cross Classic and Gran Prix of Gloucester. In addition, he won the Lionhearts International Cyclocross and Bio Wheels/United Dairy Farmers Harbin Park International.
Powers kicked off this season with a strong showing at CrossVegas placing fourth to winner and Under 23 world champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Giant Offroad Team), Christian Heule (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea).
His preliminary plan was to next contest StarCrossed in Washington, Gateway Cross in Missouri, Planet Bike Cup in Madison and UCI 3 Cincinnati in Ohio among others. In addition, Powers plans to travel overseas to contest the first two UCI World Cups in Plzen and Tabor, Czech Republic, on October 16 and October 23 respectively.
"After that we will see where things stand, whether or not we do the next World Cup. If we are riding in the top ten it might be something to think about," Powers said. "The USGP is definitely something that we are thinking about and it is on the calendar as being a big part of the season for us."
Powers currently competes for the UCI Continental Jelly Belly p/b Kenda team on the road, a team that is sponsored by Focus Bikes. He joined the cyclo-cross team Rapha-Focus alongside other strong US ‘crossers Zach McDonald and Chris Jones for the next two seasons.
"The main reason was the enthusiasm that Focus was showing and the ability to do a brand name with Rapha and Focus," Powers said. "Focus is the bicycle sponsor for Jelly Belly and that is how I came to meet the owners of Focus who were the three on the ground people at the Jelly Belly team camp.
"They've always reached out to me to find out how things were going while developing this relationship with cyclo-cross," he said. "To keep me on their bikes all year round, this was the logical next step."