Two-time and current US national cyclo-cross champion Jeremy Powers will ride for a new team during the 2014-15 season while increasing his focus on the World Cup circuit. Powers, who stepped away from full-time road racing this year, told Cyclingnews that he will announce his new cyclo-cross set up in the coming weeks.
“It's a big change for me,” Powers said this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he is competing in the three-day Tulsa Tough. “We'll do all the major races in the States – all the category ones for the most part – and then all of the World Cups.”
After 10 years of riding with Jelly Belly on the road, this season will be the first that Powers, 30, has been able to devote himself 100 percent to 'cross – after he takes care of the business side of things.
“I had to put on my business cap a little bit to take care of all the logistics, get the partners on board,” he said of creating his new team. “There's a lot of negotiating when you bring a lot of partners on board, but fortunately over the years I have made a lot of great friends and business relationships. I've been a good advocate for a lot of companies, and I was lucky enough to be able to put them together.”
Powers signed with Jelly Belly in 2004, and throughout the years he has maintained a double focus on the road and in the mud of cyclo-cross. Now he is experiencing the freedom of running his own exclusive 'cross campaign.
“I was at training camp in February, and I got a lot of time to put fuel in the tank and just feel good and take a real break,” he said. “I didn't have the constraints of a Tour of California or having something else coming where I had to train 30 hours a week to get ready. I really could focus my training around cyclo-cross, you know, running, core work, upper body stuff that I haven't had a chance to do in the past. So it's been pretty cool.”
Powers is just now starting to ramp up his training for the cyclo-cross season. He recently competed in the six-day Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike race, where he had a “very sharp introduction back into my mountain bike career with only one knee smashed on a sharp rock.”
Powers is in Tulsa to tie in one of the sponsors for his new team and get some training in the process. He'll also ride in the gran fondo on Saturday as part of the Tulsa Tough weekend. From there, Powers will compete in the Tour of America's Dairyland, his own Gran Fundo and then the Catamount Classic mountain bike race in Vermont. He'll hit the Mont Sainte Anne World Cup mountain bike race in Canada and then head to Boulder, Colorado, for some altitude training before cyclo-cross season begins.
“The season starts earlier than usual, like on the 11th of September out in Vegas,” Powers said. “So then it goes Vegas, Boulder, Madison [Wisconsin] and then it's really full gas.”
Full gas for Powers will mean his first opportunity to race the entire World Cup circuit. He stepped back from the circuit last year, competing in just one event before the world championships, where he finished 25th. But Powers believes he can ride consistently in the top 10 on the World Cup circuit, and with some “great” rides he can do even better.
“So next year we're going to find out,” he said. “There's some stuff that will get announced as to why I can do it this year, logistically speaking, that's going to help me out a lot. I'm not going to say yet, but it's basically going to allow me to be there in a compound with a network that I can use be successful in Europe. It comes down to resources and the people that you have around you.
“For me, it's a shame if I'm able to and I don't race at the world level,” he said. “So that's what I'm doing.”
Powers, who said he is cutting his total race days nearly in half this year, believes the time away from racing will propel him into the cyclo-cross season with a fresh body and an eager attitude.
“I haven't felt hungry to race in a really long time,” he said. “And now I'm excited to race. You talk to any rider and they'll tell you they haven't felt that in a long time. Maybe at the beginning of the year road guys do, but I don't know. I am finally, for the first time in really long time, saying, 'Man I want to be good, I want to race.'”