Jeremy Powers out-dueled his Cyclocrossworld.com teammates to capture a sixth consecutive victory for his team at the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross race held in Etobicoke, Canada. The previous day's winner, Tim Johnson, placed second while Jamey Driscoll rounded out the podium in third.
"My back hurt from Tim t-boning me yesterday," said Powers who crashed over the barriers in the previous day's event. "The whole team is doing really well and the season is coming together great. I think the most important thing is that no one is getting injured and we are all still having a good time and staying healthy."
The three tough-to-beat teammates had a two in one chance of taking over the lead of the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series with both Johnson and Driscoll within reach. However, Powers winning the race meant that the leader's jersey will stay with Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) until the next round set to take place in Boulder on October 31 and November 1.
"I don't think the points really mattered today because the series still has four more races," Powers said. "We have so much time to go and I hope it doesn't make a difference today. We are not going to worry about the rankings and we are just going to race our races. It's all good because the harder we go against each other now the better we are later."
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The Toronto Midweek Cycling Club hosted the 16th annual GNC Toronto International Cyclo-cross at the Centennial Park ski area. The round two course was held on the opposite side of the ski hill to the previous day. The circuit wound it's way through a wooded section, used parts of the climb and included a dried-up mud pit and a mini sand pit. The gorgeous afternoon sunshine made the course hard packed and dry, a sharp contrast to the previous year's mud bath.
"Last year I loved the course because there was so much off camber and it was so slimy," Powers said. "This year it was like a rally course. It felt like a BMX track out there. It was like one punch after another. A punchy race course definitely suits all our riding styles."
Jesse Anthony (Jamis) took the hole-shot off the tarmac and onto the grass followed by a stream of Cyclocrossworld.com riders: Powers, Johnson and Driscoll. Also mixed in amongst the leading cluster were Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Mike Garrigan (Jet Power), Aaron Schooler (Team H&R Block) and Derrick St. John (Garneau).
Powers was the first to separate himself from the group, mid-way through the second lap. He built a near 10-second lead before his teammate Johnson bridged across. Driscoll was the next to cross the gap. Anthony followed for a short time but never successfully made it across.
"Powers was leading and Jacques-Maynes was off his bike and picking himself up," Driscoll said. "I got held up behind Anthony. Once I was able to get around him I bridged up to the others. Anthony was fighting pretty hard for a lap, holding me at five seconds but because we were working together be opened a bigger gap."
The three teammates worked in unison and alternated taking the lead until they opened a healthy 45-second advantage. After that, it was game on and they were no longer teammates but three individual riders fighting it out for the win.
"Priority number one was to work together to get off the front," Driscoll said. "And then we were just ripping into each other. It wasn't like we were saying ‘oh well, you haven't won in a while so you take it,' it was more of a case of whoever beats each other up the most and whoever was the strongest was going to win."
Johnson maneuvered his way around his crashing teammates. First, Powers followed by Driscoll in the last few hundred metres of the race. Powers picked himself up and reconnected with Johnson just in time to win a sprint finish. Driscoll crashed too close to the finish line and safely rolled in for third.
"It was fun but it was a battle royale and I definitely don't want people thinking that we were just riding around having a good time because we were really racing against each other," Powers said. "I crashed three corners to go and then Jamey crashed two corners to go while Tim was trying to get the fastest lap times. We were really racing for it."
At a lengthy distance back, Anthony was joined by St John, Garrigan and Tristan Schouten (Planet Bike). The four riders waged a battle for fourth that stretched over the following five laps. St John managed to gradually dwindle the group down to a mere two, he and Schouten. He jumped away from Schouten over the barriers and happily rode in for fourth place.
"I needed to give a little bit more at the start to get on those three," St John said. "I'm sure they would have worked me over so chances are it would have been the same result but it would have been nice to fight them a bit. In the end, we kept on attacking each other a bit. I counter-attacked up the hill and caught them off guard. Tristan was with me but I tried to stay in front of him and really hammered it into the barriers."
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com|
|2||Tim Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com|
|3||Jamey Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com|