The showdown between Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld teammates Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers lived up to every prediction for a knock-down, drag-out battle for the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross title in the series finale in Portland.
In a nail-biting performance, the pair threw everything they had at each other before Powers was able to prevail in the two-man sprint.
Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) locked horns with Specialized's Todd Wells for the final podium spot and narrowly beat Wells for the final podium place.
It was the first USGP overall win for Powers, who has ridden an impressively consistent season, claiming both wins in Portland in addition to one in Madison and a second in Louisville as well as the NACT series title.
"I was really glad it could be an exciting race," said Powers. "We both brought our A-game and people were able to see that. It doesn't happen a lot. Everyone always has something - an illness or mechanical or something that keeps it from being even.
"I've done a couple races like that this year with Ryan, but to do this with Tim here at the final, with both of us tied on points for the jersey, it was really special."
Johnson, the winner of the 2008 USGP, showed excellent sportsmanship and took the loss in his stride, embracing Powers after the line and expressing genuine happiness for his teammate's victory.
"I gave everything I had today," Johnson said. "I just couldn't get faster - every time I caught up to him he had at least the same speed if not even faster, and it kept me in the red the whole time.
"It's a tough thing to deal with, but that's what you ask for. All season long we were just passing the jersey back and forth - it's tough for me because I'm not wearing the jersey, but I can't ask for someone better to be wearing it than Jeremy right now."
The win was by no means an easy one for Powers, who admitted that he struggled during the first few laps with legs that were heavy from the previous day's effort.
"I didn't have great legs. I went really hard yesterday. I used up a lot of matches, and I definitely felt that in my legs last night. I was tired today. That first lap was super hard, and I was trying to stay in my zone and not go above that."
Trebon, clearly out for revenge after the previous day's mechanical, claimed the hole shot and led for the first half lap. However, he lacked the kind of speed necessary to challenge Johnson and Powers on the tight corners which riddled the second half and was passed by Johnson before the end of the opening lap.
Johnson's attack on Trebon came as Powers was back in fourth position, forcing his younger teammate to put in a big effort to chase.
Seeing his USGP title going up the course, Powers quickly edged past first Wells and then slipped around Trebon by the end of lap two before finally reaching the wheel of his teammate at the end of the third lap. "When Tim came to the front, I was impressed," Powers said. "I thought 'Wow, this is going to be a really hard race'.
"I had to close about a four or five second gap on Tim and it took me the whole lap to do it."
From there on out, the race was, as Johnson described it, "full throttle the entire time".
"Today was all about trying to nail the laps as fast and smooth as possible," Johnson said. "It's tough to be smooth when you're going 110% and you have to follow Jeremy through all that stuff. The last 25 minutes were just lightning fast. It was all we could do to get around the course without crashing into trees and stakes."
Powers agreed, saying there was no lull where anyone could relax and regroup. "Tim and I were both sliding out and dabbing on different things because we were going so hard. There was no blood in the arms because we were going absolutely as hard as we could."
The tables were turned on Johnson as Powers rocketed to the lead on lap four, but his advantage never went out more than a few seconds, and Johnson, using his vast experience and never-say-die mentality made his way up to his younger teammate's wheel just before the barriers on the final lap.
Heading into the planks side-by-side, Powers bunny hopped while Johnson flew over on foot but failed to get an advantage heading onto the pavement.
"I was thinking to myself, 'please god, let me get over this clean and get to the pavement first'," Powers said, and he managed to do just that.
Johnson said he had to choose whether to take the inside or the outside line heading over the barriers. "I chose to go on the outside hoping I could get in my pedals quickly and get going, but the course turns right onto the pavement and I didn't have any speed to get around him."
"I definitely had confidence in the sprint," Powers said. "This was definitely a very special win, to have my name on the list of people who have won the USGP is really special and I'm super psyched to bring it back home."
Behind, Trebon and Wells were having an equally thrilling battle for the podium - the lanky Kona man bided his time, using Wells as a shelter from the wind, and as Wells began to fade he managed to get to the front in the final half lap and hold his advantage to the line.
"I knew I had to have a couple bike lengths before the barriers because [Wells] was hopping them," Trebon said.
Wells could be consoled by taking third overall in the series behind Powers and Johnson.
"It's nice, but I didn't get on the podium in one race this year, I'd have rather have got one in an individual race, but I'll take it," Wells said.
The fifth spot was filled out by Fort Collins winner Geoff Kabush, while Saturday's podium finisher Chris Jones (Rapha Focus) took sixth.
The day's under-23 winner was Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin), who got the better of Saturday's winner Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus), while Luke Keough (Champion Systems) claimed the overall series despite having poor finishes in Portland after being sick.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.||0:57:46|
|2||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.||0:00:01|
|3||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona||0:00:28|
|4||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized||0:00:33|
|5||Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis / Rocky Mount||0:01:21|
|6||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha / Focus||0:01:43|
|7||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.||0:02:03|
|8||Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling||0:02:14|
|9||Tristan Schouten (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com/Blue/Rolf||0:02:16|
|10||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin||0:02:17|
|11||Zach Mcdonald (USA) Rapha / Focus||0:02:18|
|12||Alex Candelario (USA) World Bicycle Relief||0:02:58|
|13||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||0:03:17|
|14||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:03:55|
|15||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||0:03:56|
|16||Adam Mcgrath (USA) Thule/Van Dessel Cyclocross||0:04:12|
|17||Mitch Hoke (USA) Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross|
|18||Adam Craig (USA) Giant||0:04:20|
|19||Jeremy Ferguson (USA) California Giant/Specialized||0:04:32|
|20||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block||0:04:35|
|21||Matt Pacocha (USA) Hudz-Subaru||0:04:55|
|22||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport||0:05:04|
|23||Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona||0:05:06|
|24||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant/Specialized||0:05:08|
|25||Ryan Knapp (USA) Bikereg.Com||0:05:31|
|26||Scott Chapin (USA) Bay101/Hrs/Rocklobster||0:05:37|
|27||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M||0:05:42|
|28||Ryan Iddings (USA) Team Redline||0:05:51|
|29||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona Fsa||0:05:54|
|30||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant/Specialized||0:06:01|
|31||Kevin Noiles (Can) La Bicicletta Pro Shop||0:06:03|
|32||Eric Emsky (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com Pb Blue|
|33||Joshua Snead (USA) Bay 101/Rhs/Rock Lobster||0:06:42|
|34||Molly Cameron (USA)||0:07:37|
|35 -1 lap||Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar|
|36 -1 lap||Luke Keough (USA) Champion System Pb Keough|
|37 -1 lap||Brett Nichols (USA) Scott Usa|
|38 -1 lap||Frank Spiteri (USA) Peninsula Velo/Pomodoro|
|39 -1 lap||Tim Allen (USA) Feedback Sports|
|40 -1 lap||Andre Sutton (Can) Hardcore Cycling Club|
|41 -1 lap||Brad Cole (USA) Kccx/Verge P/B Challenge Tires|
|42 -2 laps||Damian Schmitt (USA) Sunnyside Sports|
|43 -2 laps||Dylan Tremblay (Can) Oak Bay Bicycles/Nanaimo|
|44 -2 laps||Brennan Wodtli (USA)|
|45 -2 laps||Clayton Omer (USA) Papa Johns' Racing Team|
|46 -3 laps||Patrick Jackson (USA) Buy Local|
|47 -3 laps||Will Ross (USA) Kaladi Bro'S/Subway|
|48 -3 laps||Derek Yarra (USA) Box Dog Bikes|
|49 -3 laps||Matthew Fox (USA) Sunnyside Sports|
|50 -3 laps||Matt Russell (USA) Evanplews.Com/Kenda|
|51 -3 laps||John Frey (USA) All Access Productions / Hutch'sS|
|52 -3 laps||Eric Colton (USA) The Team|
|53 -3 laps||Kyle Mcgilvray (USA) Old Town Bicycle|
|54 -3 laps||Chris Fisher (USA) Velorochester|
|55 -3 laps||Aaron Mickels (USA) Stanwood Velo Sport|
|56 -3 laps||Andrew Bennett (USA) Team Redline|
|57 -3 laps||Connor Mccutcheon (USA) Rebound Spl / Bear Valley Bikes|
|58 -4 laps||Eric Sheagley (USA) Rocky Mountain Bicycles|
|59 -4 laps||Alan Adams (USA) Hagens Berman Llp|
|60 -4 laps||John-Christian Flack (USA) Olympia Orthopaedic Associates|
|DNF||Joseph Schmalz (USA) Kccx/Verge Presented By Challenge|
|DNF||Ryan Weaver (USA) River City Bicycles/ Backdoor Banditos|
|DNF||Davy Yeater (USA) River City Bicycles/Cannondale|
|DNF||Brue Syvertsen (USA) De La Paz Coffee|
|DNF||Benjamin Kubas (USA) Tai Cycling Team/Genr8/Smith|
|DNF||Travis Livermon (USA) Mock Orange Racing|
|DNF||Mike Sherer (USA) The Pony Shop|
|DNF||Chris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain/Shimano/Giro|