The spectacle that has become CrossVegas enjoyed one of the deepest fields ever seen on US soil last Wednesdayâ€”and lived-up to all the hype. A ridiculously large and powerful field came down to one of the closest sprint finishes ever seen in a cross race, with Francis Mourey coming out on topâ€”continuing his successful US road trip. Mourey dashed Jamie Driscollâ€™s hopes on the finish line after Driscoll spent almost the entire race alone off the front. Mourey caught and passed Driscoll in the finishing straight, winning ahead of a World Cup caliber chase group. It was a race only the bright lights of Las Vegas could provide.
Behind the chaos at the front, there was a bit of mayhem behind. Todd Wells crashed early in the race, taking-out a bevy of riders including Tim Johnson (who is clearly finding his form after a rough road season). Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was Ryan Trebon. Trebon is enjoying terrific form and buried himself trying to catch Driscoll. Although Mourey and Gerben de Knegt were able to get by him, he could have fared better if he hadnâ€™t done so much work. The rest of the top-10 was filled with the usual cast of characters including Jonathan Page, Jeremy Powers, and Geoff Kabush.
The glitter and glam of a Las Vegas night quickly gave way to the warm, windy Wisconsin daylight as the bulk of Wednesdayâ€™s field traveled to the Midwest to the first two rounds of the USGP. The weekend quickly became a reminder of how much of last season went. The Cyclocrossworld trio of Johnson, Powers and Driscoll used the course in Wisconsin to continue their domination.
Jeremy Powers took-off right from the start on Saturday and never looked back. His traditional first lap surge went unmatched and a combination of team tactics and tired legs left the New Englander free to take the win. Behind, Ryan Trebon and Geoff Kabush led the chase, with Johnson staying along for the ride. Johnson eventually took-off himself, extending his gap to 30-seconds over the chase by dayâ€™s end. As was the case in Washington and Vegas, Trebon handled the bulk of the pace making only to fade in the final few laps. His fade allowed Todd Wells and Jonathan Page to join into the battle for third, which Page won in a sprint finish.
Two of the dayâ€™s more notable results belonged Mourey and Tristan Schouten. Moureyâ€™s winning streak came to a grinding halt midway through the race as he fell way off the pace, finishing 14th. Meanwhile, Schouten, a local rider with only a few years of elite experience, battled it out with the top riders in the country, finishing a stellar seventh behind Driscoll and Christian Heule.
Sundayâ€™s Round Two felt like dÃ©jÃ vu all over again, only this time, there was a twist. Powers made his usual move, but unlike Saturday, Johnson was able to bridge across and counter, winning by 30- seconds over Powers. Mourey was able to recover from the previous dayâ€™s poor result, finishing third. And Trebon wasâ€”againâ€”the pacemaker in the chase group, until he imploded to finish ninth.
Saturdayâ€™s revelation, Tristan Schouten, showed heâ€™s no one-hit wonder, battling Mourey and Christian Heule to the line to take fifth. And last weekâ€™s New England standout, Luca Damiani posted impressive results both days and is now a major contender for the U23 USGP title. Another rider with back-to-back weekends of stellar results was Davide Frattini. Coming off a pair of UCI wins in Baltimore, Frattini left the USGP with a pair of top-10 finishes against a stacked field.
While the majority of the US cross riders headed to Wisconsin, several riders decided to chase UCI points by staying close to home, racing in New Hampshire and New York.Â Justin Lindine dominated both races, attacking early in Saturdayâ€™s Norâ€™Easter Cross to win by nearly a minute. Sundayâ€™s Ellison Park Cross in New York saw a similar attack from Lindine, but this time Derrick St. John was able to go with him. The pair gained nearly three minutes on the rest of the field before Lindine took the win.
This weekâ€™s rankings reflect a weekend in which received our first true look at whoâ€™s got what domestically cross. Several riders dropped-out this week, largely due to the fact that last week there were actually 12 riders in the rankings. (I included Powers, Wells and Driscoll because they hadnâ€™t raced yet, and boy do I look good for doing so.) So without further ado and self-promotion, hereâ€™s this weekâ€™s Domestic Power Rankings:
1. Jeremy Powers (10tie) – Powers kicked off his 2010 US cross campaign with three spectacular races. He was able to survive the mayhem that was CrossVegas, finishing an impressive seventh. His first and second place finishes at the USGP prove that heâ€™s the best rider in the US right now.
2. Tim Johnson (1) – Last weekâ€™s #1 also had an excellent weekend in Wisconsin, netting a first and second. His twelfth in Vegas was more a result of Todd Wells crash, but Johnson still looked a bit off his game. Sunday may have been a sign of things to come, and all eyes will be on the New Englander when he races in front of a virtual hometown crowd in Gloucester.
3. Ryan Trebon (2) – Trebon has quickly become the chase group leader. The problem is that he drags all the other superstars around until they attack and leave him in their wake. When Trebon won Nationals a few years ago he attacked early, a la Jeremy Powers. Perhaps itâ€™s time for him to find that first lap acceleration again.
4. Jamey Driscoll (10tie) – How crushed where you when Mourey caught Driscoll on the line in Vegas? Talk about drama! Despite the setback, Driscoll held his head high and wrapped up a pair of top-10â€™s in Wisconsin. Consistency was the mark of Driscollâ€™s season last year and heâ€™s already off to a good start. Will he remain overshadowed by his two teammatesâ€”or will he finally break out? Only time will tell.
5. Todd Wells (10c) – Todd Wells began his 2010 cross campaign with a bangâ€”literally. He crashed on the run-up early in CrossVegas, ruining his chances at victory.Â Wells held-on though for a respectable 15th-place finish. He then rebounded well to take fourth Saturday and eighth Sunday in Wisconsin. Now heâ€™s going to take two weeks off, the break might be just enough time for him to collect his thoughts and embark on a National Championship campaign.
6. Tristan Schouten – The 28-year-old American competed in six UCI events last year. And while he picked-up several top-10 finishes, four of the six races had less then stellar fields. But what a difference a year makes as Schouten eanred a pair of top-10â€™s in Wisconsin against World Cup caliber fields. It may be a bit early to predict, but Schouten could be headed to Worlds at the end of the season. Talk about improvement!
7. Davide Frattini (3) – Frattini slips in the rankings a bit, but proved last weekâ€™s criticism to be a bit hasty. He finished ninth Saturday and sixth Sunday in Wisconsin, proving he can play with the big boys. The question now is if and when will he beat the big boys?
8. Justin Lindine (6) – Lindine decided not to head to Wisconsin, staying close to home to save some travel time and pick-up some valuable UCI points. Boy did that plan pay-off! Lindine dominated the East Coast UCI races, taking maximum points both days. While the fields were less than spectacular, he proved a few weeks ago that he can mix it up with Johnson and the rest of New Englandâ€™s elite. Heâ€™ll have a lot to prove in Gloucester this weekend.
9. Geoff Kabush – Kabush had a quiet, but solid start to the season. After some good results in Washington, he earned top-10â€™s in Vegas and Round One of the USGP. Sunday he suffered a bit, but still managed to finish 12th. A lack of consistency has been Kabushâ€™s Achillesâ€™ heelâ€”perhaps last week is a sign of change in the air.
10. Luca Damiani (4) – Damiani proved that last weekâ€™s spot in the rankings was a bit high, but not premature. The young Italian racked-up a top-15 in Vegas and a top-10 in Round Two of the USGP. He now has a big target on his back as a candidate to win the NECCS and USGP U23 crowns. Heâ€™ll have chance to continue his bid for the NACT U23 crown as well this weekend in Gloucester.
Dropped this week: Valentin Scherz (5), Adam Craig (7), Anthony Grand (8) and Joachim Parbo (9).
After a week of amazing races, thereâ€™s no time for rest. Rounds Three and Four of the NACT head to Gloucester for two days of racing. Dubbed, â€œNew England Worldâ€™sâ€, Gloucester is an event all to itself. Needless to say, there should be fireworks. For those of you wondering why the West Coast gets little coverage, hereâ€™s your chance to shine with Krosstoberfest Weekend in San Dimas, California. Â Who will win in Gloucester? And whoâ€™s going to do some California dreaming?
Share your comments and picks below.