By Kirsten Robbins
Reigning US national cyclo-cross champion Tim Johnson made a most unexpected comeback victory when he won his first US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP) title after suffering an acute knee injury just two weeks ago. Now, the hunt is on for the US national championship held in Kansas City.
He had a mantel piece full of USGP silver second placed medals and just when the gold seemed to be slipping away from him mid-season, he clawed his way back into the USGP series leading position during the final round held in Portland. The victory did not come without a struggle to gain points ahead a stellar group of riders like defending champion Ryan Trebon, Todd Wells and his teammate Jeremy Powers, who were all within reach of the honorary title.
After a two week injury setback, Johnson won the series' round five, pulling himself back into the leading role. His third place finish in round six the next day was enough to solidify his first USGP victory. The gold medal has taken the spot light on the mantel amongst the hard earned memories of silver disappointments. This time around, the typical turbulence of cyclo-cross did not put a damper on Johnson's end of season success.
"I didn't think I was going to have a chance at USGP because of what happened to my knee and missing one race," said Johnson who was pleased to capture the overall in front of his good friend and USGP organizer, Bruce Fina. Fina watched him take runner up in prior years. "I went into the last round with no expectations. It was a huge surprise for me, shocking. Winning the first day in Portland was the best case scenario for me, and it happened."