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Powers hones 'cross form at Tour of Alberta

Two-time US cyclo-cross champion Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) has been preparing for the upcoming season with a blast of intense training on the road this week at the Tour of Alberta. Powers made the breakaway during stage 1 from Strathcona County to Canmore, and the four-rider group he was in made it all the way to the closing circuits before the pack swallowed them up and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took his second win of the race.

"The goal was to get to the circuits and try to finish it off, because you never know what can happen," Powers said of the day's escape.

"Every time we turned we thought it was finally going to be a little bit of tailwind and we'd get a little bit of a reprieve," he said. "But every single time we turned there was wind from another direction. It felt like it never stopped. So that makes for a very hard day with four riders. I don't know what it was like in the back, but up front we were all leaking oil, if you will."

Powers didn't get the win, obviously, but he did collect the jersey for most aggressive rider on the day. And maybe more importantly was the nearly three-and-a-half hours of high-intensity "training" the 30-year-old American put in off the front.

"It's definitely more motorpacing than I'd have been able to get otherwise," he said.

During Friday's stage 3, Powers was well-positioned near the front of the field before the bunch hit the crosswinds that blew the race apart, but he suffered a flat tire just before the race started splitting up.

"I really thought that I would be able to make that selection," he said of the front group of 18 that launched winner Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) to victory.

"We knew it was going to hit the fan," he said. "But everything happens for a reason. Maybe it was better for me to be resting. I was in the cars getting a change for my flat and I looked up and could see four groups on the road already. So best case scenario for me was to be in the last group.

"I just rode hard as far as I could, and luckily we got back in the big group. It was a hard day for me still, even thought I didn't get the chance to play."

Powers, who has ridden for the Rapha-Focus cyclo-cross team since 2011, should get plenty of opportunities to "play" once his cyclo-cross season starts in less than a week. And he's hoping to carry good form from the Canadian stage race onto the muddy circuits of the 'cross season.

"I'm really, really happy with this race," he said. "It's exactly what I need for the beginning of my season. I have little bit more prep to do before I really start flying, but once I'm recovered from this I feel like I'm going to be in a really, really good place. So I feel lucky to have this event before my season starts."

Powers, who has claimed more than 30 UCI 'cross wins since 2009, will kick off his 2013-14 campaign at the Starcrossed race in Seattle on September 14. He'll follow that a few days later with the CrossVegas race on September 14 before heading to Wisconsin for the two-day Trek Cyclocross Collective Cup on September 21 and 22.

The goal for this season is a simple one, Powers said. He wants to improve on last season.

"I had a little trouble at the end of last year," he said. "I think that's fair. Anyone could see that. I did maybe just a little too much early, so I tried to push things back. I won at the beginning and the end last year, but I feel as though I was a little bit too up and down at the end. So I'm hoping just to improve from last year.

"I'm not setting any specific goals, but I would like to improve in the World Cups that I do and just be able to win as many category 1 events as possible."

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