Powers wins his first elite US Cyclo-cross Championship

In a heavyweight slugfest for the ages, Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) withstood a barrage of blows from rivals accounting for eight of the last 11 national titles before ultimately delivering his own knockout punch and his first national championship.

Amidst raucous applause, a visibly moved Powers crossed the finish line first in the final event of the five-day USA Cycling Cyclocross Championships held at Badger Prairie Park near Madison, Wisconsin with a hard-fought and masterfully measured performance.

Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt), who returned to racing last weekend (where he beat Powers twice) after nearly seven weeks out of competition from a knee injury, earned the silver medal, 17 seconds down on Powers, while Jonathan Page (Planet Bike-Blue), who flew into Madison on Friday night from his home base in Belgium, secured bronze 26 seconds behind Powers.

For much of the eight-lap elite men's championship the four heavily favored pre-race contenders, Powers, Trebon, Page and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) rode together at the head of the race and were joined early on by Chris Jones (Rapha Focus) and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and later by newly crowned U23 champion Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus), who ultimately finished fourth in perhaps the ride of the day.

Powers patiently played the waiting game, keeping a close eye on his rivals, before unleashing a devastating attack early on the penultimate lap which blew the leading group apart.

"Everybody had their dig and I was just cautiously sitting and waiting thinking 'Ok, is this everything?' Are the guys bluffing or is this everything that they're putting out?", Powers told Cyclingnews. "I was confident in my fitness coming in but there's alot of things that can happen at national championships. As it turns out, everything that can happen has happened to me at the national championships (laughs)."

At the previous elite Nationals, held in Bend, Oregon in December, 2010, Powers shared the race lead with Todd Wells, but a crash knocked him out of contention for the championship. Powers ended up with the bronze medal, behind race winner Wells and runner-up Ryan Trebon.

"Once everybody put their chips down I waited and waited and waited and then with two to go I thought 'I'm going to have a go at it'. I know I can do 15 minutes as hard as I can and that was enough," said Powers.

"When I got the gap to the pit and then I was able to extend it on the climb I thought, "Ok, I just have to make no errors'. There was this feeling that this was going to be the hardest interval I've ever done and that was it."

The result? The first stars-and-stripes jersey in the 28-year-old Powers' career. "I'm just really, really happy to be finally able to do it because it's been such a long time coming for me. To put my name on the list is super-special and I can retire happy now."

Ryan Trebon, who has two elite men's championships in his palmares, was pleased with his silver medal performance on a day on which he said he had "good legs but not great legs".

"The whole day I suffered," Trebon told Cyclingnews. "I definitely didn't feel like I was the strongest one out there at all. I thought Jeremy [Powers] and [Jonathan] Page looked really good, especially that first lap when they both bridged up to me really fast after I had that gap.

"I thought I was going to get fifth today, I'm happy to get second. It was a weird race, the [lead] group kept coming together and then it would blow apart, but it didn't seem to blow apart when anyone was really going for it. People were getting gaps in the pits.

"I didn't pit once today. I was looking down and it didn't look dirty. It wasn't impacted with mud and it was working really well."

Trebon was well-positioned to respond to Powers' winning attack, but with an on-form and motivated Powers riding for his first national title Trebon knew the deck was stacked against him.

"I was still trying to keep him within sight in case he made a mistake or had a technical problem, but he had good fitness and was riding really strong. I was praying to hold onto second. I thought for sure that Page was going to catch me."

Even though Page has been a three-time national champion, as well as a 'cross Worlds silver medalist in 2007, he entered this year's 'cross Nationals a bit under the radar, but still a contender. Page had struggled this season during his European 'cross campaign, but got a morale boost with two top-10 finishes in Belgium a week ago.

"I was pretty much playing defense, not letting anything get away, and just staying upright," Page told Cyclingnews. "I knew with two of them (Rapha Focus riders) in the group, Powers and McDonald, that was going to be a factor. With a lap and a half to go in the pit, McDonald got between me and Powers. He wasn't going to pit, I was going to pit, so we kind of rubbed elbows. I pitted, Powers gunned it, got a gap and rode strong."

Page was pragmatic about his bronze medal performance, in light of his travel to Wisconsin from Belgium. "I was all right, but at the end of the race I wasn't all right any more. That's pretty much it. Am I sad I did it this way? No. Would I do it again this way? Yeah. I'm always on the podium, but it only counts if you win. It's been too long."

Race favorites force early selection

Under brilliant blue skies and temperatures nearly 20 degrees warmer than normal for a Sunday afternoon in January, 107 riders launched off the start line and sprinted down the asphalt start/finish straight and onto the grass of a soccer field in Badger Prairie Park. Not more than 24 hours after dominating the U23 championship, Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus) took the hole shot onto grass...and immediately crashed.

"I hole shotted and then I grabbed two handfuls of brake, and didn't find any handfuls of brake, so I just went into the crowd," said McDonald. "It's actually really embarrassing to do that. I guess you could almost call it the rookie move."

New masters 30-34 champion Dylan McNicholas (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale Cyclocrossworld) momentarily led around the soccer field, but Trebon soon surged past and powered up the 2.1-mile circuit's hardest climb alone in the lead, pursued by McNicholas, Johnson, Page, Powers and Driscoll.

On the second lap, through the pit for the second time, a lead group of six had consolidated at the head of affairs containing Trebon, Page, Rapha Focus riders Powers and Jones plus Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld teammates Johnson and Driscoll.

Driscoll and Jones were the weak links in the sextet, finding themselves gapped at the surges of their four companions in the lead group, but for the next two laps they repeatedly clawed their way back into contact.

Past the midway point, on the fifth lap, the elastic finally snapped for Driscoll and Jones, but Powers soon found reinforcements in the dramatic resurgence of McDonald, who had been chasing hard since his very early crash and finally made contact with the leaders approaching the circuit's second climb.

"I hopped back onto my bike, someone rode over my wheel but it still rolled although the derailleur was shot," McDonald said regarding his hole shot crash. "I made it to the pit, got on a new bike and then decided I wanted to screw up more and on the first climb I rolled off my chain. I got off to fix it twice. After the first lap I was about 30 [riders] down, so I just sunk in and tried to bridge.

"I didn't know if I'd ever catch up to the front group, but they kept getting closer."

"It was a pleasant surprise," said Powers. "There's power in numbers even if it doesn't mean anything. 'Cross is just one person but it was good to have him there."

Johnson, Trebon and Page would each make efforts to split the group, but early on the seventh and penultimate lap, on the first sector of grass around the soccer field, Powers made the race's decisive attack, splintering the five-man lead selection, and 15 minutes later the stars-and-stripes jersey was his.

"I'm really proud to have the jersey," said Powers. "I never had it as a junior or an under-23 and now to have it as a professional it really means that much more to me."

Full Results

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Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeremy Powers (Team Rapha-Focus)1:05:57
2Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt)0:00:17
3Jonathan Page (Planet Bike)0:00:26
4Zach Mcdonald (Team Rapha-Focus)0:00:38
5Timothy Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)0:01:06
6Christopher Jones (Team Rapha-Focus)0:01:52
7James Driscoll (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)0:02:02
8Dylan Mcnicholas (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale Cyclocrossworld)0:02:33
9Travis Livermon (Smart Stop-Mock Orange P/B Ridley)0:02:37
10Mitchell Hoke (Team Clif Bar)0:03:37
11Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage)0:03:47
12Jerome Townsend (Smart Stop-Mock Orange P/B Ridley)0:04:36
13Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Clif Bar)0:04:38
14Cody Kaiser (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)0:05:12
15Barry Wicks (Kona)0:05:32
16Sean Babcock (Kona)0:05:47
17Nicholas Keough (Corner Cycle Cycling Club/Champion System P/B Keough Cyclocross)0:06:05
18Adam Myerson (Smart Stop-Mock Orange P/B Ridley)0:06:06
19Erik Tonkin (Kona)0:06:25
20Weston Schempf (Charm City Cycling Llc)0:06:31
21Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport)0:07:09
22Braden Kappius (Team Clif Bar)0:07:34
23Jake Wells (Stan's Notubes)0:07:45
24Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)0:08:37
25Tristan Schouten (Cyclocrossracing.Com)0:10:08
-2lapsPeter Webber (Boulder Cycle Sport)Row 25 - Cell 2
-2lapsBrandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport)Row 26 - Cell 2
-2lapsMatt ShriverRow 27 - Cell 2
-2lapsScott Frederick (Inland/Back To Dirt)Row 28 - Cell 2
-2lapsCorey StelljesRow 29 - Cell 2
-2lapsJustin Robinson (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)Row 30 - Cell 2
-3lapsAdam St Germain (Nbx Bikes/Quadfire Racing/Nbx/Narragansett Beer Cycling Team P/B A)Row 31 - Cell 2
-3lapsAndrew Wulfkuhle (Charm City Cycling Llc)Row 32 - Cell 2
-3lapsBrad Cole (Kccx Fuji Elite Cyclocross Team P/B Challenge Tires)Row 33 - Cell 2
-3lapsDamian Schmitt (Silverado Gallery / Sunnyside Sports)Row 34 - Cell 2
-3lapsBrian Hludzinski (Boulder Cycle Sport)Row 35 - Cell 2
-3lapsJesse Rients (Kuhl)Row 36 - Cell 2
-3lapsCraig Faulkner (Crossniacs)Row 37 - Cell 2
-3lapsTim Allen (Feedback Sports Racing)Row 38 - Cell 2
-3lapsDaniel Chabanov (Connecticut Yankee Bc/Richard Sachs - Rgm Watches - Radix)Row 39 - Cell 2
-3lapsJon Cariveau (Moots)Row 40 - Cell 2
-3lapsIsaac NeffRow 41 - Cell 2
-3lapsStephen Cummings (Charm City Cycling Llc)Row 42 - Cell 2
-3lapsMark Savery (Midwest Cycling Community Ne)Row 43 - Cell 2
-3lapsAaron Bradford (Bay101/Hrs/Rocklobster)Row 44 - Cell 2
-3lapsThomas Mackay (Charm City Cycling Llc)Row 45 - Cell 2
-3lapsWilliam Iaia (Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle Co)Row 46 - Cell 2
-4lapsJohn Curry (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)Row 47 - Cell 2
-4lapsAbe Rotstein (Team Bicycle Trip/Symantec)Row 48 - Cell 2
-4lapsTyler Jenema (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt/Mafia Racing)Row 49 - Cell 2
-4lapsMichael Robson (Moots)Row 50 - Cell 2
-4lapsAaron Bouplon (RockyMounts~Izze Racing)Row 51 - Cell 2
-4lapsBradford Perley (Champion System/Cannondale)Row 52 - Cell 2
-4lapsJohn Proppe (Lake Effect Cycling Team/Team Lake Effect)Row 53 - Cell 2
-4lapsChristopher Fisher (Crossniacs)Row 54 - Cell 2
-4lapsColin Reuter (Crossresults.Com/Crossresults.Com P/B Jra Cycles)Row 55 - Cell 2
-4lapsRyan FawleyRow 56 - Cell 2
-4lapsScott Chapin (Bay 101/Hrs/Rock Lobster Cyclocross)Row 57 - Cell 2
-4lapsShadd Smith (Kccx Fuji Elite Cyclocross Team P/B Challenge Tires)Row 58 - Cell 2
-4lapsGrant HolickyRow 59 - Cell 2
-4lapsShawn Harshman (Boulder Cycle Sport)Row 60 - Cell 2
-4lapsAlexander Bremer (Century Road Club Association/Foundation)Row 61 - Cell 2
-5lapsRyan DorseyRow 62 - Cell 2
-5lapsMatthew Fox (Silverado Gallery/ Sunnyside Sports)Row 63 - Cell 2
-5lapsBrandon Cross (Cole Sport)Row 64 - Cell 2
-5lapsKenny Wehn (Notubes Race Team)Row 65 - Cell 2
-5lapsDarian Founds (Southern Colorado Velo)Row 66 - Cell 2
-5lapsPaul Mumford (Kinky Llama Racing)Row 67 - Cell 2
-5lapsWayne Simon (Psimet Racing/Enzo'S-Psimet)Row 68 - Cell 2
-5lapsWilliam Street (Kuhl)Row 69 - Cell 2
-5lapsBrett Pirie (Colobikelaw.Com)Row 70 - Cell 2
-5lapsMatthew Petersen (Balance Cycling/Erik'S Bike Shop)Row 71 - Cell 2
-5lapsRaymond Smith (Ocd Cycling/Bob'S Red Mill Cyclocross)Row 72 - Cell 2
-5lapsMatthew Means (Charm City Cycling Llc)Row 73 - Cell 2
-5lapsNicholas LemkeRow 74 - Cell 2
-5lapsAlex Dayton (Mock Orange Bikes/Smartstop / Mock Orange Bikes P/B Ridley)Row 75 - Cell 2
-5lapsAaron SwansonRow 76 - Cell 2
-5lapsWillem Heydendael (Bicycle Therapy)Row 77 - Cell 2
-5lapsRyan Gabriel (Scuderia Superleggera)Row 78 - Cell 2
-5lapsMatthew Schweiker (Quantum Mesa Cycles)Row 79 - Cell 2
-5lapsTimothy Hall (Nashvillecyclist.Com)Row 80 - Cell 2
-5lapsJason Cemanski (Apex Racing Team)Row 81 - Cell 2
-5lapsRobert Sonora (Colavita Racing Inc.)Row 82 - Cell 2
-6lapsMark Babcock (Nouveau Velo Cycling Team/Deeds Publishing)Row 83 - Cell 2
-6lapsMark Fasczewski (Scenic City Velo/Krystal / Warp9Bikes.Com)Row 84 - Cell 2
DNSBryan Fawley (Obrea Usa)Row 85 - Cell 2
DNSMolly Cameron (Metafilter - Portland Bicycle Studio)Row 86 - Cell 2
DNSJeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team)Row 87 - Cell 2
DNSTravis Donn (Ethos Racing)Row 88 - Cell 2
DNSFred Brown (Mtbnj.Com)Row 89 - Cell 2
DNSJohn Behrens (Bailey Bikes)Row 90 - Cell 2
DNSJohn Bailey (Bailey Bikes)Row 91 - Cell 2
DNSJim GentesRow 92 - Cell 2
DNSDonald MyrahRow 93 - Cell 2
DNSDevin Obrien (Angry Catfish)Row 94 - Cell 2
DNSChristopher Tirone (Buffalo Bicycling Club Inc./French Meadow Bakery/Fortistar)Row 95 - Cell 2
DNSAlex Work (Bay 101/Hrs/Rock Lobster Cyclocross/Bay 101/Hrs/Rock Lobster)Row 96 - Cell 2
DNSMatthew BartlettRow 97 - Cell 2
DNSJohn Flack (Cbc Racing/Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Cycling T)Row 98 - Cell 2
DNSBrian Jorgensen (Central Oregon Community College)Row 99 - Cell 2
DNSRobert Kendall (Clarksville Schwinn/Rapid Transit)Row 100 - Cell 2
DNSCailean Carlberg (Bicycles Of Tulsa)Row 101 - Cell 2
DNSCharles Parmain (Bicycles Of Tulsa)Row 102 - Cell 2
DNSTim ButlerRow 103 - Cell 2
DNSMatthew Allen (Behind-Bars/Lgr)Row 104 - Cell 2
DNSStephen TilfordRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFChristian Favata (Connecticut Yankee Bc)Row 106 - Cell 2
DNFLee UnwinRow 107 - Cell 2

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.

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