New Englander Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) displayed his expert mud skills with a winning performance at the Blue Sky Velo Cup in Longmont, Colorado. He crossed the line nearly a minute ahead of his teammates Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll.
The Blue Sky Velo Cup marks round seven of the North American Cyclo-cross Trophy series. Johnson's win, combined with previous wins at the Gloucester Grand Prix and the Toronto International Cross, gave him the point-advantage needed to over take the previous leader Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) in the overall standings.
"This is pretty wild," said Johnson, who brought his team its 12th victory of the season. "We never thought it would be like this at all. 'Cross racing' is 'cross racing' and you can never count on anything being the way you hope because it's such a crap shoot all the time."
Mudders start your engines...
Unexpected winter storms and freezing temperatures two days prior left a five-foot blanket of snow and ice on top of the Xilinx Campus circuit located in Longmont, a short distance outside of Boulder's cycling hotspot. The conditions drew smiles from the likes of Johnson, who excels under such extreme variables. However the sun broke the morning of the race and melted much of the snow leaving behind a hodgepodge of mud.
"I raced in snow like 10 years ago," Johnson said. "I was hoping that at least it was going to stay really muddy because I think tomorrow is going to be really fast. It's a sandier course. This course did dry up a little as the race went on. The mud was getting thicker and we were getting slower. It was nice to get a good start so I didn't have to worry about it."
Johnson rolled to the line with a decorated front row that included his teammates Driscoll and Powers along with Chris Jones (Champion Systems), Davide Frattini (Team Fuji), Danish National Champion Joachim Parbo (CCV Racing) and Jesse Anthony (Jamis). Noticeably absent from the event was the Canadian National Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis - Rocky Mountain) and the US National Champion Ryan Trebon who suffered head trauma and back pain from a crash at the Derby City Cup held in Louisville, Kentucky.
"He had a bad crash last weekend," Johnson said. "I though he was coming up until this morning when I heard that he wasn't. I hope he is all right."
US Mountain Bike National Champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) put his skills to the test over a course that was mildly technical compared to the mountain bike courses he is familiar with. His palmares includes four national titles, 97 national podiums, a representing the US at the Olympic Games and top 10 finishes at the World Cup level.
As the race kicked off, Johnson quickly moved to the front on the backside of the circuit's lengthy straightaway. The section of the course was deceivingly difficult because of a false flat uphill loaded with thick mud. Johnson displayed his skills in and out of the technical turns and in particular when riding the off-camber mud pit that had most riders slipping and sliding to the ground. A five-second advantage quickly turned into 15 and then 50 before the last lap.
"I was still trying to race at the end because you can crash any time," Johnson said. "This course was very slippery and it wasn't easy at all. It was a mess."
Powers trailed Johnson for the first two laps but fell off the pace as the race progressed. Further back, Driscoll bridged across and the pair worked together to gain a sizable lead ahead of the chase group of some five riders.
"I didn't have the best start on the pavement here," Driscoll said. "It was kind of funny because I knew it was going to be downhill weaving in and out of the trees that it was going to be dicey and sure enough it was. I didn't crash but I had to make up some time. It might have been a mixed blessing because it took me a little while to start breathing again. With the altitude it hurt like heck but I'm hoping it hurt like heck for everyone else too."
Mountain bike specialist Adam Craig (Giant) slowly muscled his way back up to Powers and Driscoll. His effort winded him for a short time but he soon found his rhythm. An inopportune mechanical forced him off his bike to fix his brakes, losing the valuable time he had gained earlier.
"Getting back on my bike, I hit my brakes into my spokes and I had to get off," Craig said. "I don't want to sound like a jerk or anything but it wasn't too hard to work my way up to them. I was going to pull through and press on to see if I could ride them off my wheel but I had the mechanical. This course is cut and dry and you can only ride as hard as you can ride."
The race from fifth through 10th heated up as Troy Wells (Clif Bar) displayed an impressive performance to hold off Anthony and the reshuffling pair, Horgan-Kobelski and Dan Summerhill (VMG/Felt).
|1||Timothy Johnson (USA)||1:07:02|
|2||Jeremy Powers (USA)||0:00:52|
|3||James Driscoll (USA)|
|4||Adam Craig (USA)||0:01:13|
|5||Troy Wells (USA)||0:02:45|
|6||Jesse Anthony (USA)||0:02:47|
|7||Daniel Summerhill (USA)||0:03:09|
|8||Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA)||0:03:44|
|9||Zach McDonald (USA)||0:04:27|
|10||Brandon Dwight (USA)||0:04:34|
|11||Joachim Carbo (Den)||0:05:00|
|12||Aaron Schooler (Can)||0:05:01|
|13||Peter Webber (USA)||0:05:08|
|14||Jake Wells (USA)||0:05:28|
|15||Matt Pacocha (USA)||0:05:59|
|16||Carl Decker (USA)||0:06:49|
|17||Ryan Iddings (USA)||0:07:12|
|18||Eric Tonkin (USA)||0:07:30|
|19||Brady Kappius (USA)||0:08:37|
|DNF||Spencer Paxson (USA)|
|DNF||Allen Krughoff (USA)|
|DNF||Adam Snyder (USA)|
|DNF||Mitch Hoke (USA)|
|DNF||Bradley White (USA)|
|DNF||Tim Allen (USA)|
|DNF||Joshua Berry (USA)|
|DNF||Brad Cole (USA)|
|DNF||Andrew Barker (USA)|
|DNF||Jeremy Ferguson (USA)|
|DNF||Aaron Bouplon (USA)|
|DNF||Martin Guess (USA)|
|DNF||Conor Mullervy (USA)|
|DNF||Troy Heithecker (USA)|
|DNF||Chris Hurst (USA)|
|DNF||Chad Melis (USA)|
|DNF||Colin Cares (USA)|
|DNF||Charles Coyle (USA)|
|DNF||Bryan Mickiewicz (USA)|
|DNF||Russell Finsterwald (USA)|
|DNF||Michael Friedberg (USA)|
|DNF||Brent Steinberg (USA)|
|DNF||Jan Koles (USA)|
|DNF||John Salskov (USA)|
|DNF||Daniel Matheny (USA)|
|DNF||Katriel Statman (USA)|
|DNF||Russell Stevenson (USA)|
|DNF||Andrew Llewellyn (USA)|
|DNF||Joe Taddeucci (USA)|
|DNF||Geoffrey Nenninger (USA)|
|DNF||Darian Founds (USA)|
|DNF||Logan Vonbokel (USA)|
|DNF||Chad Wells (USA)|
|DNF||Derek Loudermilk (USA)|
|DNF||Robert Sonora (USA)|
|DNF||Lane Miller (USA)|