The sun emerged over Fort Collins for the second round of the USGP New Belgium Cup, and while the course was made much faster by the drier conditions, it was no less treacherous, and the higher speed proved problematic for some of the race's top contenders.
Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld's Tim Johnson had no problems with the tricky descents or the long, grinding climbs and was able to capitalise on the misfortune of others to solo to a commanding victory.
After coming in fifth on the previous day's race, Johnson, the new USGP series leader, said he came into the day wanting to improve.
"I said, 'I am going to have a better race'... that's what I told myself," explained Johnson after his win.
His closest competitor, Kona-FSA's Ryan Trebon, was on the other side of lady luck's favour. Trebon rode an aggressive first two laps, trading attacks with Johnson's teammate Jeremy Powers until Powers flatted, leaving just Johnson and Trebon up front.
"The first couple of laps I was letting Ryan and Jeremy [Powers] just keep smashing each other," said Johnson, who chose to take the start of the race a bit more conservatively.
"You kind of forget it's altitude, but it is, and it does hurt. Even if you don't pay for it with how hard you can pedal, you pay by making mistakes. So I tried to stay as patient as possible."
Cannondale kickstarts the day
Powers took the hole shot, and showed he was having a much better day than Saturday as he attacked the first lap savagely, pulling away a select group containing Johnson, the previous day's winner Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), Todd Wells (Specialized) and Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA).
Trebon was equally aggressive, attacking Powers on the climbs, but taking more care on the still greasy descents. His efforts managed to dislodge Kabush and Wells, before an untimely flat tyre for Powers made the race a two-man affair on the second lap.
With the lanky Oregonian clearly on a strong ride, Johnson admitted he was worried that he might not be able to win. "Ryan's got this strength that comes out - we were talking about it yesterday - he hits the gas and keeps going and going. Today's course was a bit better for him, the hardest parts were longer and there was enough traction so he could hit the gas and string it out each time."
Johnson and Trebon appeared equally matched, trading attack after attack until a critical mistake by Trebon on the back side of the course sent him off the track and into the tape. While Johnson stormed away, Trebon would never re-find his groove and eventually faded to 10th.
Trebon said that he got knocked off his line by the bumpy, muddy section on the back side of the course, and went into the tape and over the bars.
"It was a frustrating moment because I was on such a good day. I just couldn't get myself back into it mentally," Trebon explained. "I took a pit bike, but then I wasn't comfortable with the set up and the tyre pressure, and it threw me for a loop. One mistake turned into four, and while sometimes you can push through those issues, other times it defeats you."
With Trebon vanquished, Johnson unleashed an energetic performance for the remainder of the race, putting in the day's first sub-seven minute lap time to pull out an unbeatable lead.
"After I heard Trebon was on the ground, I tried to put together as fast a lap as possible," said Johnson.
Behind him, the attack had the unfortunate effect of distancing his own teammate Powers, who was trying to bluff his way out of one of two flat tyres he had on the day.
"The same thing happened to me in Boulder and I kind of soft pedaled because I didn't want to ruin the wheel," Powers said. He explained his predicament to his teammates and they replied 'ruin the wheel'. "So this time I rode as hard as I could to get to the pit, and I'm glad it worked out."
Powers was able push through the problem to stay in the group with Wells, while Kabush was distanced mid-way through the race. Powers and Wells spent several laps trading pulls in the race for second.
Both riders took the risk to bunny-hop the barriers to save time, but the choice proved unlucky for Wells, who crashed while hopping the barriers with three laps to go and was unable to continue the race.
Even after Wells crashed, Powers said he continued to bunny-hop, despite the obvious risk and his own sizeable margin over Kabush. "It was nicer to not get off; I wasn't running them very quickly so to jump them was just as good," Powers said.
"Todd was actually the one who jumped them in front of me, and I felt I had to jump them if he was, because he was actually putting time into me. Even two seconds on a day like today is enough, and I didn't want that to happen. It was better to take that risk."
Johnson, on the other hand, chose to run the barriers. "I don't think it was faster to bunny hop at all. We all make choices as to what we can do or not do, and I definitely keep it safe by not jumping."
Once Wells was out, it was every man for himself, with Johnson's large lead not threatened by Powers in the run to the line, while Kabush could not close the gap and remained in third to become the only rider to stand on the podium on both days.
"Today definitely hurt a bit more, but it is great to get on the podium both days. I felt just as good today, but there was a bit more pedaling, and I just didn't have the snap to go with Tim, he was riding away strong. I kept Powers close, but he was riding a few sections faster and jumping the barriers," said Kabush.
Kabush held off the chase of Saturday's runner-up Jamey Driscoll, who moved into fourth, while Rabobank-Giant's Adam Craig put in a strong performance in fifth.
The day's most aggressive rider award went to Wells' younger brother Troy, who fought back from a poor starting position into sixth place ahead of Chris Jones (Rapha Focus), Tristan Schouten and the day's best U23 rider Zach McDonald.
|1||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||1:02:41|
|2||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:00:40|
|3||Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain||0:01:05|
|4||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:01:13|
|5||Adam Craig (USA) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team||0:01:20|
|6||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:02:26|
|7||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha Focus||0:02:39|
|8||Tristan Schouten (USA) cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf||0:02:45|
|9||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||0:02:49|
|10||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||0:03:51|
|11||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona||0:04:03|
|12||Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:04:18|
|13||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross||0:04:25|
|14||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||0:04:47|
|15||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:04:50|
|16||Matthew Pacocha (USA) Hudz-Subaru||0:04:57|
|17||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M Young Guns||0:05:06|
|18||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||0:05:12|
|19||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||0:05:19|
|20||Adam Mcgrath (USA) Feedback Sports-Van Dessel||0:05:24|
|21||Chris Hurst (USA)||0:05:29|
|22||Jack Hinkens (USA) Team Plan C/pb Stevens||0:05:33|
|23||Jesse Anthony (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:05:35|
|24||Dave Hackworthy (USA) Team Plan C||0:05:56|
|25||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:06:08|
|26||Eric Emsky (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue||0:06:13|
|27||Brandon Dwight (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||0:06:29|
|28||Robin Eckmann (Ger) Pearl Izumi||0:07:02|
|29||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Clif Bar Development Team||0:07:43|
|30||Tim Allen (USA) Feedback Sports||0:07:59|
|31||Spencer Powlison (USA) Mafia Racing||-1lap|
|32||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||-2laps|
|33||Frank Spiteri (USA) Peninsula Velo-Pomodoro|
|34||Brad Cole (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|35||Skyler Trujillo (USA) Black Sheep Jr. Cycling|
|36||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||-3laps|
|37||John Curry (USA) GAS/Intrinsik|
|38||Kevin Mullervy (USA) Team Exergy|
|39||Troy Heithecker (USA) Ciclismo Racing|
|40||Shawn Harshman (USA) Konig Racing p/b Harshman Wealth|
|41||Russell Harding (USA) Natural Grocers p/b XP Companie|
|42||David Block (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|43||Caley Fretz (USA) VeloNews|
|44||Scott Tietzel (USA) Specialized - Curve Inc.|
|45||Doug Johnson (USA) bandwagon racing||-4laps|
|46||Bryan Mickiewicz (USA) Hammer Nutrition|
|47||Casey Hill (USA) Mafia Racing|
|48||Conor Mullervy (USA) Team Exergy|
|49||Aaron Bouplon (USA) Rocky Mounts-Izze|
|50||Will Kaladi Ross (USA) Bro's/Chain Reaction|
|51||Chris Brandt (USA) Brandt-Sorenson.com|
|52||Ross Holbrook (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|53||Geoffrey Nenninger (USA) Colorado Multisport||-5laps|
|54||Nathan Miller (USA) The Church of the Big Ring/XSIN|
|55||James Archer (USA) Specialized Bicycles|
|56||Adam Mills (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|57||Keith Batstone (Can) Rundle Mountain Cycling Club|
|58||Lane Miller (USA) Louisville Cyclery||-6laps|
|59||Trevor Connor (Can) Rio Grande|
|DNF||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized|
|DNF||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant-Specialized|
|DNF||Mike Sherer (USA) The Pony Shop|
|DNF||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing Nw-Hagens Berman Llp|
|DNF||Corey Collier (USA) On the River|
|DNF||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|DNF||David Sheek (USA) SDG Factory Team|
|1||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||250||pts|
|2||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||234|
|3||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||142|
|4||Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain||138|
|5||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona||138|
|6||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized||137|
|7||Tristan Schouten (USA) cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf||127|
|8||Davide Frattini (Ita) Hudz-Subaru||70|
|9||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha Focus||59|
|10||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||56|
|11||Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS||56|
|12||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||53|
|13||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||49|
|14||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||44|
|15||Adam Craig (USA) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team||43|
|16||Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ||41|
|17||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||38|
|18||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||29|
|19||Jesse Anthony (USA) California Giant-Specialized||23|
|20||Derrick St John (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy||23|
|21||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross||21|
|22||Luca Damiani (Ita) El Gato CX||20|
|23||Adam Mcgrath (USA) Feedback Sports-Van Dessel||18|
|24||Matthew Pacocha (USA) Hudz-Subaru||14|
|25||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant-Specialized||14|
|26||Ryan Knapp (USA) BikeReg.com||13|
|27||Mark Lalonde (USA) Specialized||13|
|28||Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar||10|
|29||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace||10|
|30||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||9|
|31||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||8|
|32||Valentin Scherz (Swi) Cyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks||8|
|33||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M Young Guns||4|
|34||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||4|
|35||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||4|
|36||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||3|
|37||Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv||2|
|38||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||1|
|1||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross||244||pts|
|2||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||184|
|3||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||184|
|4||Dave Hackworthy (USA) Team Plan C||144|
|5||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||130|
|6||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge||123|
|7||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||90|
|8||Clayton Omer (USA) Papa Johns' Racing Team||63|
|9||Robin Eckmann (Ger) Pearl Izumi||61|
|10||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing Nw-Hagens Berman Llp||60|
|11||Eric Emsky (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue||54|
|12||Skyler Trujillo (USA) Black Sheep Jr. Cycling||51|
|13||Valentin Scherz (Swi) Cyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks||50|
|14||Jack Hinkens (USA)||49|
|15||Chris Hurst (USA)||44|
|16||Zachary Edwards (USA) DRT Racing||44|
|17||Josh Johnson (USA) DRT Racing||42|
|18||Logan Vonbokel (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge||23|
|19||Christopher Bogedin (USA) CCSH - RGF Pb Felt Bicycles Eli||18|
|20||Caley Fretz (USA) VeloNews||17|
|21||Jared Stafford (Can) Bikesports Racing||17|
|22||David Block (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||15|
|23||Will Ross (USA)||15|
|24||Daniel Gerow (USA) Wolverines/acfstores.com||13|
|25||Alex Howes (USA)||12|