After holding the first UCI race of the season a weekend ago, the United States host six UCI races this weekend with pairs of races in Maryland, Vermont and Washington. Needless to say, there’s a lot to cover. Domestically speaking, here’s what we saw:
The biggest news—and surprise?—from this weekend’s opening two rounds of the North American Cyclocross Trophy (NACT) was the dominance—on both days—of Ryan Trebon. Now, I know what you’re saying, “Trebon didn’t win, in fact, he barely hit the podium on Sunday, coming-in two minutes down.” You might be right, but if you look at the way each race unfolded, Trebon has to be the cream of the domestic crop in hand to race.
Frenchman Francis Mourey donned his nation’s colors as he decimated a stacked international field in Washington. Saturday’s win came in spite of a stellar Trebon, who managed to bridge across to the Frenchmen early in the race. Trebon used Jonathan Page to help close a 20-second gap before riding away with Mourey on a path of destruction. Mourey out-sprinted the Kona rider, and in the process set the tone for Sunday’s Rad Racing GP.
Indeed, Sunday’s story was much the same, except that it was an all-International affair as Christian Heule and Jonathan Page (yes, he’s American, but he races primarily in Europe) rounded-out the podium. Trebon was the top US-based rider in fourth. It is clear that Trebon is in great form a heading into CrossVegas—and if it weren’t for his massive last lap effort on Saturday, Trebon might have been in contention for Sunday’s win as well.
The Mid-Atlantic Cross (MAC) series picked-up right where it left off after last weekend’s UCI debut with Rounds Two and Three of the series in Baltimore. The Charm City Cross stepped-up its game this year to include a pair of UCI races in the famed Druid Hill Park. Both days of racing featured a well-rounded field of regional riders, but lacked a bit of superstar power largly due to a pair of UCI races in Vermont.
Davide Frattini continued his traditional early season domination with a pair of impressive victories. Frattini didn’t race last weekend, but over the past few years has been known to dominate the first few weekends of racing. Hopefully he can continue this trend later into the season. Valentin Scherz and countryman Anthony Grand did their best, but could never reel in the Italian. All three get their first national test this Wednesday at CrossVegas.
It should come as no surprise that Tim Johnson was back on the top step of the podium both days in Vermont. The defending National Champion looked like he’s in super form heading into CrossVegas. Johnson didn’t only win—he dominated. He’s a big favorite for Wednesday’s Vegas showdown.
Last year, the NECCS introduced us to Dan Timmerman. This year, Luca Damiani could be the dark horse New Englander to watch. Damiani managed to break free of a strong chase group containing Justin Lindine, Joachim Parbo and Jerome Townsend on Saturday and Sunday. All-in-all, the top-10 in Vermont could have easily been mistaken for a national event. Clearly, the NECCS is once again the top regional series in the land.
A few notes about this year’s Power Rankings. Like last year, we will split the rankings between domestic and international riders.
As far as the riders go, any rider who spends more than half of his season in the US will be considered in the US rankings. On the other hand, if a rider spends more than half of his season in Europe, they’ll be considered in the International rankings. Therefore, riders like Jonathan Page and Francis Mourey will be in the International rankings, while Davide Frattini and Valentin Scherz will be ranked in the US.
I’m also going to make a few minor changes to the rankings themselves. Last year, the rankings were more of a week-to-week consideration. As a result, there were constant changes, especially if a rider missed a race or an entire weekend. This year, I’m striving for more of an overall ranking that takes into account a rider’s overall season performance. As a result, riders will not be penalized for not racing or for one bad result—unless it becomes a trend. With so many races spread out across the country, it will take a few weeks for things to sort themselves out, but once we hit October, we’ll begin to have a clear idea of what’s what.
So without further delay, here’s this week’s US Power Ranking:
1. Tim Johnson (1) – If there was any doubt as to who should be #1 in the first ranking of the 2010-2011 season, it was clarified within the first three laps of Saturday’s race. The only person who looked more dominant this weekend was Francis Mourey—who’s obviously ineligible for this list. The true test for Johnson comes Wednesday in Vegas.
2. Ryan Trebon (2) – Honestly, I was blown away by Trebon’s performance this past weekend. Obviously Trebon had the advantage of a somewhat home crowd, but the fact that he hung with one of the top-10 riders in the world speaks volumes. Call it early in the season; call it hometown advantage; call it whatever you want—Trebon is a clear podium contender in Vegas.
3. Davide Frattini – Frattini always seems to race well in hot, dry conditions—the weather in Baltimore couldn ot have been more perfect. I think Frattini may be placed higher then I like, but back-to-back UCI wins has to count for something. I’m interested to see how he fares in Vegas.
4. Luca Damiani – As I said earlier, Damiani could be the revelation of this year’s domestic cross season. His pair of second-places in Vermont was impressive, not to mention that he finished behind an in-form national champion.
5. Valentin Scherz – Scherz is my pick to surprise everyone this season. He’s eased his way into the season with some challenging Mid-Atlantic races. Wednesday will be a really trying race for the young Swiss rider. A top-15 placing would be a solid result.
6. Justin Lindine – Lindine was another Vermont surprise. Like Damiani, he has some notoriety from the road. Lindine narrowly missed-out on second on Sunday, but showed some great skills and poise on his way to a pair of third-places. Only time will tell if he deserves a ranking this high.
7. Adam Craig (10) – Craig picked-up a fourth and a sixth behind some of the world’s best in Washington. Last year Craig didn’t really race until the last half of the season, but came on very strong by nationals in December. This year, he’s giving it a full season, coming-off a strong summer on his mountain bike. Perhaps Craig is on his way to some top ‘cross finishes as well.
8. Anthony Grand – There’s still very little known about Grand, but his pair of third-place finishes in Baltimore may finally earn “the other Swiss guy” some notoriety. Even though I think he’s here more in support of Scherz, Grand will be an interesting rider to watch.
9. Joachim Parbo – I honestly expected a bit of a stronger showing from Parbo last weekend. That said, you can’t fault the Dane for his performances. With time, I think Parbo will find his groove. He’ll be a true podium contender within the coming weeks.
10. Jeremy Powers (3), Todd Wells (4), and Jamey Driscoll (5) – These three riders are still among the top-10 in the country—at least until they prove otherwise. Powers just wrapped-up his road season while Wells and Driscoll are taking a bit of a rest before getting back into the thick things. I’ll leave all three on the list for now; I expect them to replace some of the men above them by the end of the month.
By now, most of you have realized that the first big US showdown occurs Wednesday at CrossVegas. It will be a truly international field and as a result, should produce some marquee results for Americans and Europeans alike. Following CrossVegas, the bulk of the field should head to Wisconsin for the first two rounds of the USGP (The Planet Bike Cup). East Coast riders will head to The NorEaster (New Hampshire) on Saturday and/or the Ellison Park Cross (New York) on Sunday. All the fields are set, stacked, and ready—it’s time to find-out who the real stars of the domestic cross scene will be this year.