Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) attacked Day One of the C2 Chicago Cyclocross Cup’s New Year’s Resolution Race with purpose but came up short in the final laps against a late charge from Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus). In the final laps of the race Powers rode away from a group of four, which included Johnson, Yannick Eckmann (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) and Jamie Discroll (Cannondale-Cylcorossworld) to claim victory in the snow.
The CCC NYR course, which runs through a suburban golf course outside Chicago, appeared to be shaping up to be a colder version of Cross Vegas, which also runs through similar, though less frozen playing fields, until a surprise snowfall dumped down during the women's race. The snow abated for the start of the men's race but dropping temperatures, snow flurries, and a dusting of snow on the close-cropped grass made every turn a hazard.
Tim Johnson exploded onto the course and took an early lead. Johnson looked to be to be the most comfortable in the snow, but was closely tailed by Yannick Eckmann, who was Johnson's most persistent challenger early in the race. "I spent a lot of time riding my BMX bike in the snow when I was a kid. I feel comfortable in this stuff and it's fun," said Johnson. "This is a great chance to ride fast and if you crash it's not that big of a deal. The good part was that we had some feisty guys. Yannick is really strong, and Jeremy is obviously a prolific winner this year. So I was just trying to go as fast as I could."
The front pack, consisting of Johnson, Eckmann, Powers, Discroll, Troy Wells (Team Cliff Bar Cycling), and Kerry Werner (BMC U23 Development MTB Team), solidified three laps into the race. Johnson and Wells proceeded to trade attacks over the course’s small hill and straightaways only to find Eckmann, Driscoll and Powers in closely in tow. Wells and Werner ultimately lost contact, leaving only four challengers to fight it out to the finish.
Powers had to visit the pit several times throughout the race as he dialled in a new Easton carbon seat post, and configured his tire set up. "I switched bikes a bunch of times, and when the course got a little bit slicker I wanted a different tire," Powers laughed. "Before you know it, it's 45 minutes into the race." The small adjustments were well-timed, for when Powers made his winning move with a lap and a half to go, none of the challengers could respond. "It is just calculated risk. You wait for someone to make a mistake. Today is unique because you can't go hard in the corners, so you have to do everything in the straight,” said Powers about his winning move in adverse conditions. "It is just ice on top of grass, there's no mud, there's no rut, there’s nothing. It's hard to be like, ‘oh I'm going to hook up here,’ because there is no hooking up."
Johnson was the first casualty to drop out of the lead group. "The lights went out going into the last lap, that was right when I crashed, and then Jeremy hit the gas," said Johnson. "I lost the chance to win but I'm going to go for it tomorrow. Tomorrow will definitely, hopefully, be my day."
Eckmann looked poised for his best Elite finish yet heading into the last lap but slipped coming out of a snowy turn and was passed by Driscoll. “I felt once I got in a groove I was feeling better,” said Driscoll about his consistency through the race. ”People were making mistakes around me which was one of the reasons I was able to move up into second.” Eckmann held on for third, with Johnson fourth, followed by former collegiate cyclocross champion Kerry Werner in fifth.
For Powers, who has dominated the US cyclocross scene this year, the CCC New Years Resolution race was a tune-up for the national championships in Verona, WI next week. "I wanted to have a hard effort before nationals," said Powers. "This is a nice win, and I am just building up to nationals now." Powers was hesitant to make any bold predictions for himself at nationals. "I'm going try my best to repeat, and the strongest guy will win."
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha-Focus||0:55:52|
|2||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:00:01|
|3||Yannick Eckmann (Ger) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized||0:00:09|
|4||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:00:23|
|5||Kerry Werner Jr. (USA) BMC U23 Development Team||0:01:15|
|6||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:01:33|
|7||Ryan Knapp (USA) Pony Shop Cyclocross||0:01:45|
|8||Brian Matter (USA) RACC p/b Geargrinder||0:02:05|
|9||Cody Kaiser (USA) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized|
|10||Robert Marion (USA) Carpediem Racing||0:02:06|
|11||Tristan Schouten (USA) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:02:18|
|12||Isaac Neff (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective||0:02:31|
|13||Mike Van Den Ham (Can) Cycle-Smart||0:03:42|
|14||Adam Myerson (USA) Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis||0:03:44|
|15||Alexander Martin (USA) KS Energy Services / Team Wisconsin||0:04:09|
|16||Sam O'Keefe (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes||0:04:13|
|17||Andy Reardon (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team||0:04:17|
|18||Andrew Messer (USA) Team Upland Brewing||0:04:30|
|19||Eric Thompson (USA) Plan C p/b Challenge Tires|
|20||Mark Parmelee (USA) Cycletherapy / Specialized Racing||0:04:46|
|21||Chase Dickens (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team||0:04:49|
|22||Aaron Bradford (USA) Bicyle Blue Book/HRS/Rock Lobster Cycles||0:05:56|
|23||Corey Stelljes (USA) Cyclocrossracing.com||0:06:06|
|24||David Adams (USA) Cycle-Smart||-1lap|
|25||Joseph Maloney (USA) KS Energy Services/Team Wisconsin|
|26||William Street (USA) Kuhl MTB-CX Team/ Velocity Wheels||-3laps|
|27||Ernesto Marenchin (USA) Twin Six|
|28||Michael Hemme (USA) SRAM Factory||-7laps|
|DNF||Matt Shriver (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective|