By Kirsten Robbins
It is not surprising to see Sven Nys ranked number one on the UCI cyclo-cross world points ranking, followed by a handful of other Belgian talents. However, scroll down a few more places and you will find the American Jeremy Powers in an impressive fifth place followed by his fellow countryman Ryan Trebon in seventh.
Powers, racing for Cyclocrossworld.com, swept the Cincinnati 'cross festival, a three-race weekend in Ohio which took place earlier this month. He then took second behind Trebon in the Granogue Cross C1 event on Saturday before stepping back onto the top of the podium at the Wissahickon Cross C2 event on Sunday. According to Powers obtaining UCI C1 level points is his main goal, one that will allow him a front row start when the time comes to join the European ranks in December.
"Granogue Cross was more important to me [than Wissahickon] and I was frustrated because I'm max out on C2 level points and I really needed the C1 level points," Powers said. "But, winning the race in Wissahickon was awesome because all the big guys were here and that means a lot to me."
Powers admitted that it is important to perform well in the USGP series. However, he is putting more emphasis on the UCI C1 level events in North America. Each UCI C1 event offers 60 points for the winner as opposed to the 30 points offered for at a UCI C2 event.
His pursuit for UCI C1 points started in Ohio and Delaware. It will continue in Boulder, Toronto, West Windsor, South Hampton and Portland. He saved the best for last, the US National Championships.
"Nationals are 120 points for a win and are my biggest target for the remainder of the year," said Powers, who called himself the Sven Nys of the US National Championships. "We are similar in that he always has a great season on the world level, but hasn't won the elite world championships since 2005. Nationals is a short 60-minute race and its hard to have good luck and good legs on the same day."
After the championships in Kansas City on December 14, Powers will join the US national team in Belgium to start their European cyclo-cross campaign. The team will compete in the remaining World Cups followed by the World Championships held in Hoogerheide, Netherlands on February 1, 2009.
"I have four wins right now and so maybe I have surpassed last years' results," said Powers. "But I'm trying not to be too surprised and to treat it like its not too much, too soon. This year has been awesome so far and I'm happy to be riding well. I know how much I can suffer and I hope for the best."
"I thought last year was third at CrossVegas was my biggest result in front of so many people. It was so much pedaling and not much bike handling and it was the start of a great year. Last year was a great year for me. If I could build on last year I would be happy and I get lucky with it.