It was a case of 'three times the champion' for Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) at the US National Cyclo-Cross Championships in Bend, Oregon, today as he took home his third stars-and-stripes jersey. The Massachusetts native took the prestigious single-day event by storm, winning by nearly 10 seconds ahead of local star Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike).
"It was so easy to make a mistake today," said Johnson. "The race isn't won in the first lap but it's lost in the first eight or nine of the ten laps we did. I felt smooth and fast and that was all I was thinking about. I broke the race down into chunks and every couple corners. I tried to have a trouble-free last few laps. I wasn't trying to gain any time, just tried to go as fast as I could," he added.
Johnson won his last cyclo-cross national title in 2007 in Kansas City. This year, he was the odds on favourite after taking nearly 10 season victories and winning the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series overall title.
"Oh my God, I can't believe this," Johnson said before donning the US Cyclo-Cross National Champion jersey. "It feels amazing to have the jersey back. Last time I traded frozen fingers for the win in Kansas City and I did the same thing today. My fingers are killing me."
Trebon, a native of Bend, has won the national championship on two occasions with his last title coming in 2008. This year, he started the race in front of thousands of local fans jingling cowbells who lined the course five deep just to catch a glimpse of the top-end American 'cross talents in action.
"It was awesome out there, especially going down by the beer tent where it was super loud," said Trebon. "I had a really good time out racing today. It would have been nice to win. Whoever puts on nationals next will have a hard time showing up Bend because they did a great job putting on this event. It was a good week of racing all round."
Page, 2007 UCI World Championship silver medalist, made the lengthy trip back to the US to compete in the one-day championships. His return followed a successful European campaign where he placed eighth at the World Cup round in Igorre, Spain last weekend.
Page has won the national cyclo-cross title on three occasions - 2002, 2003 and 2004 - although the prestigious jersey has eluded him in the last four years, going to formidable opponents in Todd Wells, Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon.
When asked if the lengthy travel affected his performance Page responded, "That's the only reason. There are no excuses, they rode fast and I never got going. The conditions were such that it would have been difficult for me to win, even being the favourite or the strongest, but I wasn't the strongest today. I'm glad I gave it a shot," he said.
Bad luck for some...
The weather changed from icy cold conditions to sunny and relatively warmer temperatures in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon before the start of the elite men's race. An unusually large number of riders - 160 - lined up to challenge the championship event, making for a chaotic opening lap. It was racing as usual for the familiar faces of the front row starters, however.
"It felt like a normal race to me because I only saw three people in front of me the whole time," explained Trebon. "I was worried about not having a good start. If you had a bad start and came out of a corner in 30th spot it would have been hard to pass on this course because it was so fast and single file."
Trebon took his rightful place in centre front as the defending champion, next to Page, Johnson and the other two of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com trio, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Other notable riders included Todd Wells (Specialized), Chris Jones (Champion Systems), Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs), Barry Wicks (Kona-FSA) and Nick Weighall (California Giant Berry Farms).
Powers nabbed the hole-shot onto the muddy circuit in trademark form. He displayed a blazing first lap that resulted in a five-second margin, forcing riders like Page and Trebon to chase while his teammate Johnson sat comfortably behind. Just when it looked as though Page would close the gap, he was spotted entering the pit lane for mechanical support. Valuable time was lost.
"I didn't have a mechanical I just wanted different tyre pressure," explained Page. "I wasn't happy with the pressure I had and I knew that I wasn't closing so I switched a bike again, hoping that I would get a better bike to go faster. The way the course conditions played out was in other peoples' advantage besides myself. I wasn't good enough to close it today."
Powers continued to further his lead and with Page out of the imminent picture, Trebon was forced to take over the chase with Johnson in tow. Midway through the third lap, Johnson successfully bridged across to his teammate and the pair worked together to maintain a slim three-second advantage ahead of Trebon.
The second chase group involved a recovering Page along with Wells, Driscoll, Wicks and mountain bike talent Adam Craig (Giant). Further back was the third chase group that included Timmerman, Weighall, Jones, Jesse Anthony (Jamis) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar).
An untimely crashed forced Powers into the pits with a badly mangled bike. By the time he exited the pit lane he had lost his leading position and ended up in the second chase group behind Trebon.
"I had great legs and I was ready to do what I came to Bend do which was I wanted to win one of these jerseys," said a disappointed Powers. "I felt like I was in control most of the race. I felt good riding my own race and I never looked back once. I was in my zone.
"When Tim got on I lost focus and lost my front tyre in the off-camber after the stairs and my bars went west and east and I couldn't get them back," he continued. "I had to go to the pits twice. It's how it goes, it's only one day of racing. We kept it in the family and I was happy to see Tim win."
Johnson took control of the race and maintained a yo-yoing three to five seconds of padding ahead of an evenly-matched Trebon. The defending national champion tried to close in on Johnson but the slim margin proved to be too difficult to shut down and he lost several more seconds on the last lap.
"With about three laps to go I was hovering around ten seconds and kind of hurting," Trebon said. "I knew I wasn't going to get him back unless he flatted or crashed or made a mistake. I was trying to keep it steady or close enough to where if he did make a mistake I could catch back up. He rode a great race."
Page muscled his way back into a third place podium position, out-pacing Wells in fourth. Powers recovered from his crash well enough to finish a respectable fifth place ahead of his teammate Driscoll who placed sixth.
"Johnson rode really well," Trebon added. "Jeremy went down pretty fast in that off-camber section and I think Jonathan flatted on the second lap. Johnson got away and that was the race right there. I was looking forward to trying to keep it steady and not make any mistakes. It was to your detriment if you went into the pits."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Timothy Johnson (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com)||1:02:39|
|2||Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA)||0:00:25|
|3||Jonathan Page (Planet Bike)||0:00:51|
|4||Todd Wells (Todd Wells)||0:00:56|
|5||Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com)||0:01:02|
|6||James Driscoll (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com)|
|7||Adam Craig (Giant Factory Racing)||0:02:19|
|8||Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs - RGM Watches - Radix)||0:02:39|
|9||Barry Wicks (Kona-FSA)||0:03:01|
|10||Christopher Jones (Team Champion System)||0:03:13|
|12||Jake Wells (Mafiaracing/pabst/felt)||0:03:28|
|13||Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)||0:03:39|
|14||Jesse Anthony (Jamis)||0:03:40|
|15||Nicholas Weighall (California Giant Berry Farms/s)||0:03:42|
|16||Matt Shriver (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Facto)||0:03:48|
|17||Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage P/b Xp Compani)||0:04:10|
|18||Ryan Iddings (Lapierre)||0:04:21|
|19||Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport)||0:04:24|
|20||William Dugan (Richard Sachs - Rgm Watches -)||0:04:39|
|21||Adam Myerson (Cycle-smart)||0:04:58|
|23||Sean Babcock (Team S&m)||0:05:09|
|24||Braden Kappius (Clif Bar)||0:05:12|
|25||Adam McGrath (Thule/Van Dessel)|
|26||Mark LaLonde (Planet Bike)||0:05:13|
|27||Michael Broderick (Kenda-seven-notubes)||0:05:31|
|29||Brett Luelling (Capitol Subaru Cycling)||0:05:42|
|30||Justin Robinson (California Giant Berry Farms/s)||0:05:47|
|31||Davy Yeater (River City Bicycles)||0:05:57|
|32||Matthew Pacocha (Hudz-subaru)||0:06:00|
|33||Joshua Dillon (Richard Sachs - Rgm Watches -)||0:06:40|
|34||James LaLonde (Planet Bike)|
|35||Joshua Berry (Smith Optics)|
|36||Gary Douville (Platinum Racing Team)|
|37||Ryan Knapp (Bikereg.com)|
|38||Aaron Bradford (Onsite Ultrasound/enduro)|
|39||Justin Lindine (Bikereg.com / Joe's Garage / I)|
|40||Frank Spiteri (Peninsula Velo/pomodoro)|
|41||Eric Rasmussen (Porcupine/specialized)|
|42||Scott Chapin (Hrs/rocklobster)|
|43||Shawn Mitchell (Bode)|
|45||John Curry (Gas/intrinsik Architecture)|
|46||Ben Popper (Hrs / Rock Lobster)|
|47||Scott McLaughlin (Sram Factory)|
|48||Michael Gallagher (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)|
|50||Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio)|
|51||Nathanael Wyatt (Carolina Fatz P/b Santa Cruz B)|
|52||Spencer Paxson (Team S&m Young Guns)|
|53||Damian Schmitt (Sunnyside Sports)|
|54||Nathaniel Ward (Bikereg.com / Joe's Garage / I)|
|55||Shadd Smith (Kccx / Verge)|
|56||Donald Reeb (Santa Cruz/wtb/giro)|
|57||Anastasio Flores (Calfornia Giant)|
|58||Nathan Bannerman (Rad Racing Nw)|
|59||Gabriel Keck (Scott/ritchey)|
|60||Troy Barry (Hammer Nutrition)|
|61||Dave Weaver (Alan N. North America)|
|62||Patrick JACKSON (Web Cycle)|
|63||Mitchell Peterson (Mona Vie Cannondale)|
|64||Alex Work (Hrs Rocklobster)|
|65||John Bailey (Bailey Bikes)|
|67||James Birkenbuel (Alki Rubicon Racing)|
|68||Anton Petrov (Bike Religion)|
|69||Michael Benno (Veloce Racing)|
|70||Scott Frederick (Inland Construction/back To Di)|
|71||Travis (TJ) Woodruff (Pioneer Racing)|
|72||Michael Hemme (Courage)|
|73||Matthew Fox (Sunnyside Sports)|
|75||Chad Cheeney (Durango Devo)|
|76||Craig Fowler (Ubrdo Team Project)|
|77||Cody Peterson (Cole Sport)|
|78||Josh Snead (Hrs/rocklobster)|
|79||John Flack (Valley Athletic Club)|
|80||Geoffrey Huber (Team Lost Coast/Marin)|
|81||Joshua Whitmore (Team Globalbike)|
|82||Richard Hulit (Recycled Cycles Racing)|
|83||Jesse Rients (Nature Valley/penn Cycle)|
|84||Darian Founds (Unattached)|
|85||Jeremy Kimmel (S. Camel)|
|86||William Butcher (Magnus)|
|87||Kevin Hulick (Vanilla Workshop - Speedvagon)|
|88||John Behrens (Bailey Bikes)|
|89||Jason Lowetz (Team Bearclaw)|
|90||Luke Winger (Lees Mcrae College/loon State)|
|92||Robert Jameson (Vo2 Sports)|
|93||David Meyer (Freewheel)|
|94||Jason Siegle (Bike Religion)|
|95||John Frey (Team Squirt Lover)|
|96||Benjamin Kubas (Therapeutic Associates)|
|97||eric highlander (Hrs/rock Lobster)|
|99||Eric Colton (Team Cicle)|
|100||Ryan O'Connor (Carlos Obriens Racing)|
|101||Weston Schempf (C3-athletes Serving Athletes)|
|102||David Sheek (Rock N Road)|
|103||Daniel Langlois (Embracation Cycling Journal)|
|104||Kat Statman (Pioneer Racing)|
|105||Lawrence Leonard (Successfulliving.com)|
|106||Lane Miller (Louisville Cyclery)|
|107||Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road)|
|108||Jonathan Baxley (Scenic City Velo Chattanooga/k)|