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Huge gains in Koksijde sand for Powers

US-champion Jeremy Powers has his eyes set on riding a good World Cup series this season. That endeavour includes a trip to the dunes of Koksijde. The course on the Belgian North Sea coast is very particular, with several deep sand sections that demands for sand-riding and running skills; the two features lacking in Powers’ package deal.

Despite including more running in his training, 31 year-old Powers pre-race ambition to crack the top-10 was not achieved. He finished 17th over two minutes behind the 20-year-old winner Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace). The good news: Sven Nys was only 13 seconds ahead of Powers. In the World Cup standings Powers is now eleventh with 78 points; two points away from the top-10.

After finishing his hour long dune trip Powers took on a jacket and quickly added a few more metres on his bike, trying to tackle dizziness after the race. A race marshal showed up and tried to poke Powers, his wife and the media away as the group was coming too close to the military base. A wasted Powers wasn’t going anywhere though.

“It was good. It wasn’t perfect. I just kept making mistakes. I’d lose a couple of guys here and there. It was one on top of the other. It was five seconds here, five seconds there. I watched the front guys literally go away. I just couldn’t prevent it, once the back pain and the running and all that set in,” Powers said.

All in all, Powers was relieved he pulled off a much better performance compared to his previous ride in Koksijde at the 2012 World Championships. Powers finished 26th and got lapped. Back then Ryan Trebon was the only US-rider to finish in the lead lap, finishing 18th more than four minutes back on winner Niels Albert. In this edition Powers didn’t have a great start and ended the opening lap in 18th position. He bounced back and was riding in the targeted tenth place by the end of the third lap. From there he started fading back to end on seventeenth position.

“I feel like I was in the group and that I was racing. That’s what the goal is. These guys are at the same level. For me it’s all about gains. Definitely this is a huge gain, a huge step for me especially in this race in particular. Ryan Trebon was jabbing me, hopefully you make the lead lap this time. I made the lead lap. In the other races I feel like I’m strong and I’ve got a good chance to get back into that top-10. I really would’ve liked that today but it wasn’t possible. The last time I did this race I got lapped. My running is definitely better. It’s never going to be a strong suit of mine. I held my own. I was at the front for a bunch of laps. That’s a great place. It’s a really special race. It’s unique. You only see it once a year.”

Powers isn’t racing any of the Bpost Bank Trophy or Superprestige races in Belgium. He flew over to focus on the World Cup and nothing else. Next week he’ll ride the third round of the World Cup in Milton Keynes, UK even though he doesn’t know much about the course. “I have not seen anything. I just saw a helicopter shot of it. I’m looking forward to it.” What happens after that is to be decided but for sure he’ll be lining up for the fourth World Cup round in Namur on December 21.

“We’re going to be based here. I’m going to do Milton Keynes. Then we’re going to decide what I’m going to do after that. I may go back home, I may stay. Just the World Cups. We’re not doing any other races except for the World Cups. Just with the travel that makes the most sense for me... For the moment I just sleep a lot. As many know, my wife is travelling with me now. It’s great to have two sets of hands, an extra set of eyes. All the stuff to help with all these things just makes my life a lot more easy. It’s a huge deal and definitely a fun experience for us.

“The sand is really particular. You miss the ruttery when someone jumps in front of you. One thing I didn’t expect is that the riders right in front of me were blocking my view. Having the riders right in front of me is something I have no skill in it. I would run into the rut and then have to get off. Another five seconds and I’m not getting that back,” Powers echoed his thoughts at that moment. “That’s where two minutes comes from. It’s wasn’t even the strength. I was actually riding strong and on the non-sand sections I was gaining. Just not enough technique in the sand.”

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