Reigning US 'cross champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) added the elusive CrossVegas title to his lengthy palmares with a masterful performance at Las Vegas's Desert Breeze Soccer Complex late Saturday evening. Former teammate Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) was the final rider to remain with Powers at the head of affairs, but Johnson couldn't withstand the repeated attacks from Powers on the penultimate lap, ceding 19 seconds to the Rapha-Focus rider by the finish.
Belgium's Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement), an aggressor for much of the race, rode alone over the final two laps for third place, holding off a spirited three-man chase of defending champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team), Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) and two-time CrossVegas champion Ryan Trebon, resplendent in his new Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld kit.
"Tonight meant a lot to me, I've been trying to win this race for a long time," Powers told Cyclingnews. "Vegas is the season kick-off and it's really important to show that you're going to ride a good season. Tonight was the first official test. I felt strong and I'm happy with tonight."
Runner-up Tim Johnson, who equalled his best CrossVegas result earned four years ago, felt that the race was much more difficult than previous editions. "Last year it was only hard for the last lap, maybe the last lap and a half, but this time with Ryan going, Jamie going, Jeremy going it made it really hard. That's why it split up and this race doesn't typically do that.
"I was hoping that Ryan would be there for the finish, this course is tailor-made for him, but I knew Jeremy was strong and I marked him at the end but he was just too fast for me on one of those long drags out back. I tried as hard as I could to stay with him.
"But hey, it's better than last year," Johnson added. "I'm back. Having a real plan and support system is key."
The 36-year-old Belgian who rounded out the top three strongly prefers courses replete with plenty of mud and sand, so Berden was ecstatic with the result on a parcours which at times seemed like a grass criterium.
"Normally Vegas is my worst course, so third is like a dream come true. I'm very happy with that," Berden told Cyclingnews. "I lost three kilos this last month, I've trained really hard at altitude in Boulder, I have a perfect girlfriend so everything is working out."
After Berden and Kabush each leapt off the front of a nine-man strong lead group at five laps to go, with three laps remaining a group of five riders consolidated in the lead of the hour-long Elite men's event: Powers, Johnson, Berden, Kabush and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea). Peeters's teammate Arnaud Jouffroy was chasing alone, followed by a group containing Trebon, Van der Haar, James Driscoll (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Niels Wubben (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team), Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), Jonathan Page, Lukas Flückiger (Trek World Racing) and Christoph Pfingsten (Cyclingteam De Rijke-Shanks).
A miscue by Peeters in the lead group, however, at a tight corner set the stage for the race-winning move.
"The gap ultimately opened up because of Rob Peeters crashing when Tim was at the front," said Powers. "Rob crashed, Geoff Kabush couldn't get around him and I had left a little gap so when we came around the corner, knowing it was tight, Tim had probably 15 bike lengths and I thought 'ok, I've got to close this down now'. That's what separated us from Ben Berden and then Tim and I were away."
Entering the penultimate lap Powers and Johnson rode together at the front, trailed by Berden, then Kabush. The chase group had splintered as well, with van der Haar, Trebon, Jouffroy and Flückiger in pursuit of Kabush. At the front Powers would soon rid himself of Johnson and the national champion took command of the finale.
"Once I saw that Tim was suffering a little bit I tried and got a little gap, then tried and he didn't want to take a pull so I just had to hit it. It wasn't ideal because it was so early but it was the move I knew I had to make - so I suffered."
Entering the final lap the first four riders were all riding alone - Powers, Johnson, Berden and Kabush with Trebon, van der Haar and Jouffroy riding together in pursuit of the Canadian Olympian. Powers steadily increased his advantage over Johnson while Berden began feeling pressure from his pursuers, now consisting of Kabush, van der Haar and Trebon as Jouffroy fell off the pace.
Powers and Johnson would maintain a firm grip on first and second through to the finish, while Berden dug deep to retain third. Van der Haar surged late on the final lap, but would fall three seconds shy of unseating the Belgian from the final podium position. Kabush would edge Trebon for fifth, two seconds behind the young Dutchman.
Despite not being able to defend his title, van der Haar was content with his effort and his experience with travel to the United States, something he hopes may pay dividends if he makes the Dutch 'cross Worlds team for the Louisville-hosted world championship in early February next year.
"My condition was way better than last year, but I was just pokering a bit too long," said van der Haar. "At the end a group was away and I was just too far behind and I knew winning would be tough and then there was the crash with Rob. When the [lead] group was split I thought then maybe I could podium but I was then waiting a bit too long. Trebon didn't want to do anything and then when he went it was too late.
"I almost made it too third place, but you could see he (Berden) was holding back some so he had enough left for the last bit. That was really strong for him, he was alone for the whole time."
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha-Focus||1:00:21|
|2||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:00:19|
|3||Ben Berden (Bel) Raleigh-Clement||0:00:27|
|4||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Off - Road Team||0:00:30|
|5||Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing||0:00:32|
|6||Ryan Trebon (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld|
|7||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:55|
|8||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:01:28|
|9||Lukas Flückiger (Swi) Trek World Racing||0:01:30|
|10||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:01:31|
|11||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha-Focus||0:01:47|
|12||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank Giant Off - Road Team||0:01:56|
|13||Carl Decker (USA) Giant Bicycles||0:02:16|
|14||Yannick Eckmann (Ger) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized|
|15||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder / Clif Bar||0:02:17|
|16||Bradley White (USA) Moms in Tow Cyclocross|
|17||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam De Rijke-Shanks||0:02:57|
|18||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:15|
|19||Travis Livermon (USA) Mock Orange Bikes|
|20||Jeremy Durrin (USA) JAM Fund / NCC||0:03:24|
|21||Justin Lindine (USA) Redline||0:03:31|
|22||Lukas Winterberg (Swi) Team Müller Gartengestaltung/BH Bikes||0:03:38|
|23||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:03:45|
|24||Christian Helmig (Lux) Elbowz Racing p/b Trisport||0:04:02|
|25||Dylan McNicholas (USA) cyclocrossworld.com||0:04:04|
|26||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:04:08|
|27||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||0:04:09|
|28||Jake Wells (USA) No Tubes Elite Cross Team||0:04:10|
|29||Tim Allen (USA) Feedback Sports|
|30||Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona||0:04:15|
|31||Cody Kaiser (USA) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized||0:04:37|
|32||Steve Fisher (USA) Hagens Berman Pb Raleigh||0:05:03|
|33||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block - SRI Importing||0:05:17|
|34||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha-Focus||0:05:22|
|35||Robert Marion (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team|
|36||Adam Myerson (USA) Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis|
|37||Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale / iamtedking.com||0:05:33|
|38||Russell Finsterwald (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective||0:05:39|
|39||Ken Benesh (USA) Feedback Sports||0:05:43|
|40||Jason Siegle (USA) SDG/Felt p/b IRT Wheels||0:05:57|
|41||Tyler Wren (USA) Jamis Bicycles||0:06:10|
|42||Ryan Knapp (USA) Pony Shop Cyclocross||0:06:19|
|43||Mark McConnell (Can) Synergy Racing||0:06:33|
|44||Keegan Swenson (USA) Cannondale Factory Racing||0:07:24|
|45||Grant Holicky (USA) Evol Elite Racing p/b Plains To Peaks|
|46||Scott Tietzel (USA) Evol Elite Racing p/b Plains To Peaks|
|47||Sid Taberlay (Aus) Kenda / H2O Overdrive|
|48||Joachim Parbo (Den) Hammel CK|
|49||Mitchell Kersting (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team|
|50||Robin Eckmann (Ger) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized|
|51||Chase Dickens (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team|
|52||William Iaia (USA) Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle|
|53||Bryan Fawley (USA) Dallas Bike Works|
|54||David Sheek (USA) SDG/Felt p/b IRT Wheels|
|55||Aaron Bradford (USA) Bicylebluebook/HRS/Rocklobster|
|56||Skyler Trujillo (USA) Boo Bikes|
|57||Ted Willard (USA) Brap Unlimited/DNA Cycling|
|58||Allan Rego (USA) Endurancewerx|
|59||Sergio Hernandez (USA) Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle|
|60||Jay Kwan (USA) The Team Socalcross|