Even with all the pressure of needing two wins in a row to claim the USGP series, Jeremy Powers rose to the occasion on the opening day in Portland to take home the victory over Chris Jones (Rapha Focus) and the leader's jersey from his teammate Tim Johnson, who came in third on the day.
The victory puts Powers and Johnson even on points for the overall series, and whoever comes across the line first on Sunday will wear the crown. Powers said that he would fight tomorrow to get the better of his teammate and bring home his first career USGP title.
"It was really great to win," said Powers. "Tim and I are going for this jersey, and even though we're friends, this is what we're here for and I want to win the jersey.
"Like Tim said before, we're the victims of our own success, because we've both done well all year we get to battle it out at the last race."
During the course of the race, Powers looked decidedly fresher than Johnson, having stayed stateside last week to seal the NACT series in Massachusetts while his teammate traveled across the Atlantic to race the World Cup in Belgium.
Famous for his quick start, Powers was second wheel behind U23 series leader Luke Keough coming off the pavement and never left the top three positions in the race.
Johnson, by contrast, was a surprising seventh coming out of the first half lap, and spent a good deal of the race without any wheels to follow in the blustery wind.
"I had a bad first half hour - the first 500m were pretty good, but after that it all went dark," Johnson admitted. "If you go to a race where it's fast and smooth if you have bad legs you can usually fake it, but I was in a world of hurt.
"If the race had been 30 minutes long I would have been 10th place, so I was glad it was an hour and I was able to make a race out of it."
While all eyes were on the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com duo at the start, several riders showed they were determined to stand on the top step of the podium in Portland.
The most dangerous rider, Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA), took the lead from Keough and then traded time at the front with Powers, helping to drive the pace into the red zone.
Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) sat second wheel behind Powers on the first lap before a slip toward the end of the lap pushed him out of contention.
Jones, ever aggressive, put in a dig at the start of the second lap as Powers and Trebon settled in to watch each other, and he admitted that his intent was to put riders like Johnson into difficulty.
"I saw Tim was off the back a bit, so I thought I'd get to the front and stretch it out to try and eliminate as many guys as I could. I guess I had a little bit of a gap there for a while. I wasn't really thinking about that. I just wanted to keep my own pace, and if other people could keep up they could keep up," Jones said.
The furious pace distanced Johnson with his teammate Jamey Driscoll, Specialized's Todd Wells and Jesse Anthony (California Giant Berry-Specialized) forming a chase group behind.
For half the race, it was Trebon, Powers and Jones, but at the end of lap four, Trebon slid out in a tricky turn just before the barriers and while he was able to get back on terms with Powers, Jones was not.
"I was struggling a bit once they caught me - Jeremy attacked and Ryan crashed and I ran into him - that created a gap I couldn't get back," Jones explained. "I just tried to pace myself and recover."
Over the next two laps, Powers and Trebon, evenly matched, traded time at the front - Trebon attacked the straightaways while Powers bunny-hopped the barriers and sprinted down the pavement to get back in the lanky Kona rider's draft and then countered on the back side.
Powers said the fight with Trebon was "brutal", and described how the choice of line in each corner would turn the advantage slightly toward himself or his foe.
Trebon trailed Powers after losing ground in a turn, and heading out of the barriers with two laps to go, disaster struck. After re-mounting his bike Trebon clipped in to hit the gas and sheared off his rear derailleur, coming to a halt at the start of the pavement.
With the pits more than half a lap away and the race win and series out of reach, Trebon chose to exit the course rather than post another disappointing result in an unlucky season.
"I'm not in contention for the series so there was no point in running the lap and I'm not going to race for 30th place," Trebon told Cyclingnews. He was in the dark as to why his derailleur jumped into his spokes and broke off. "I was switching bikes more often than Jeremy, so it wasn't anything to do with the bike being dirty, it's just one of those things that happens."
That left Jones chasing Powers but he was unable to close the sizable gap. He was caught briefly by Johnson and Anthony, but a mistake from the US champion opened the door for Jones to post his best ever USGP result in second, and an important result for his new team.
"Rapha [has an office in] Portland, so it's always good to perform in front of the sponsors. Zach McDonald won the U23's so it was a good day for us."
Johnson held onto his gap over Jesse Anthony (California Giant Berry-Specialized) and Todd Wells (Specialized) to take third.
Trebon, who has more USGP wins than an other rider, is determined to come back on Sunday and contend for the win.
"I felt like the course was really draining today - the mud was thick and it was really windy, so there will definitely be some tired legs out there tomorrow."
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:59:40|
|2||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha Focus||0:00:29|
|3||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:00:38|
|4||Jesse Anthony (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:00:50|
|5||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized||0:00:58|
|6||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||0:01:22|
|7||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:01:25|
|8||Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain||0:01:33|
|9||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||0:02:19|
|10||Adam Craig (USA) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team||0:02:45|
|11||Chris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain-Shimano-Giro||0:02:51|
|12||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||0:03:19|
|13||Tristan Schouten (USA) cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf||0:03:30|
|14||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||0:03:40|
|15||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||0:04:18|
|16||Alex Candelario (USA) World Bicycle Relief||0:04:40|
|17||Matthew Pacocha (USA) Hudz-Subaru||0:04:51|
|18||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:05:17|
|19||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:05:19|
|20||Adam Mcgrath (USA) Feedback Sports-Van Dessel||0:05:36|
|21||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||0:05:51|
|22||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M Young Guns||0:05:53|
|23||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:05:58|
|24||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:06:36|
|25||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||0:06:46|
|26||Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona||0:06:48|
|27||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant-Specialized||0:06:57|
|28||Frank Spiteri (USA) Peninsula Velo-Pomodoro||0:06:58|
|29||Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack||0:07:04|
|30||Carl Decker (USA) Giant||0:07:09|
|31||Tim Allen (USA) Feedback Sports||0:07:33|
|32||Joshua Snead (USA) Bay 101-HRS-Rock Lobster||0:08:03|
|33||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross||0:08:29|
|34||Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:08:50|
|35||Scott Chapin (USA) Bay101-Hrs-Rock Lobster||-3laps|
|36||Ryan Knapp (USA) BikeReg.com|
|37||Andre Sutton (Can) Hardcore Cycling Club|
|38||Ian Brown (USA) Tonicfab.Com/River City Bicycles|
|39||Brett Nichols (USA) Scott USA|
|40||Eric Emsky (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue|
|41||Brad Cole (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|42||Will Ross (USA) Kaladi Bro'S/Subway|
|43||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing Nw-Hagens Berman Llp|
|44||Nathan Bannerman (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue|
|45||Brett Luelling (USA) Buy Local Cycling|
|46||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|47||Benjamin Kubas (USA) Tai Cycling Team/Genr8/Smith Optics USA||-4laps|
|48||Brue Syvertsen (USA) De La Paz Coffee|
|49||Clayton Omer (USA) Papa Johns' Racing Team|
|50||Damian Schmitt (USA) Sunnyside Sports|
|51||Eric Colton (USA) The Team|
|52||Chris Fisher (USA) Velorochester||-5laps|
|53||Ryan Weaver (USA) River City Bicycles|
|54||Derek Yarra (USA) Box Dog Bikes|
|55||Matthew Fox (USA) Sunnyside Sports|
|56||Aaron Mickels (USA) Stanwood Velo Sport|
|57||Alan Adams (USA) Hagens Berman Llp|
|58||Connor McCutcheon (USA) Rebound Spl / Bear Valley Bikes|
|59||John Flack (USA) Olympia Orthopaedic Associates|
|DNF||Ross Bowden (USA)|
|DNF||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona|
|DNF||Kevin Noiles (Can) La Bicicletta Pro Shop|
|DNF||Davy Yeater (USA) River City Bicycles-Cannondale|
|DNF||Drew Mackenzie (Can) Island Racing Club|
|DNF||Molly Cameron (USA) Portland Bicycle Studio|
|DNF||Travis Livermon (USA) Mock Orange Racing|
|DNF||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Clif Bar Development Team|
|DNS||Andrew Bennett (USA) Team Redline|
|DNS||Mike Sherer (USA) The Pony Shop|
|DNS||Adam Mills (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires|
|DNS||Dave Hackworthy (USA) Team Plan C|
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||284||pts|
|2||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||284|
|3||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized||163|
|4||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||162|
|5||Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain||155|
|6||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona||138|
|7||Tristan Schouten (USA) cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf||135|
|8||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha Focus||99|
|9||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||70|
|10||Davide Frattini (Ita) Hudz-Subaru||70|
|11||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||61|
|12||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||59|
|13||Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS||56|
|14||Adam Craig (USA) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team||55|
|15||Jesse Anthony (USA) California Giant-Specialized||53|
|16||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||52|
|17||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||44|
|18||Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ||41|
|19||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona||29|
|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||19|
|24||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||18|
|25||Matthew Pacocha (USA) Hudz-Subaru||18|
|26||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant-Specialized||14|
|27||Ryan Knapp (USA) BikeReg.com||13|
|28||Mark Lalonde (USA) Specialized||13|
|29||Chris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain-Shimano-Giro||10|
|30||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||10|
|31||Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar||10|
|32||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace||10|
|33||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||8|
|34||Valentin Scherz (Swi) Cyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks||8|
|35||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||6|
|36||Alex Candelario (USA) World Bicycle Relief||5|
|37||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M Young Guns||4|
|38||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||4|
|39||Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv||2|
|40||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||1|
|1||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross||270||pts|
|2||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant-Specialized||218|
|3||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant-Specialized||214|
|4||Zach McDonald (USA) Rapha Focus||180|
|5||Dave Hackworthy (USA) Team Plan C||144|
|6||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge Tires||137|
|7||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||130|
|8||Eric Emsky (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue||77|
|9||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing Nw-Hagens Berman Llp||77|
|10||Clayton Omer (USA) Papa Johns' Racing Team||75|
|11||Robin Eckmann (Ger) Hot Tubes||61|
|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) Team Plan C p/b Stevens||49|
|15||Chris Hurst (USA)||44|
|16||Zachary Edwards (USA) DRT Racing||44|
|17||Josh Johnson (USA) DRT Racing||42|
|18||Will Ross (USA) Kaladi Bro'S/Subway||35|
|19||Logan Vonbokel (USA) KCCX/Verge p/b Challenge||23|
|20||Christopher Bogedin (USA) CCSH - RGF p/b Felt Bicycles||18|
|21||Caley Fretz (USA) VeloNews||17|
|22||Jared Stafford (Can) Bikesports Racing||17|
|23||David Block (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||15|
|24||Daniel Gerow (USA) Wolverines/Acfstores.com||13|
|25||Alex Howes (USA) Garmin/Team Holowesko Partners||12|
|26||Connor McCutcheon (USA) Rebound Spl / Bear Valley Bikes||10|