Nicknamed â€œNew England Worlds,â€ Rounds Three and Four of the NACT headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts for a pair of UCI races this past weekend.Â And in what seemed like a repeat of the Planet Bike Cup last week in Wisconsin, Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson picked-up victories. As if they needed extra motivation, the battle for the overall NACT lead was wide open, due to the fact that series leader Francis Mourey had returned to Europe.
Day One of the Grand Prix of Gloucester marked a slight change of pace, as Ryan Trebon took-off in a first lap attack. Johnson and Powers quickly followed and the leading trio easily distanced themselves from the rest of the field. Powers and Johnson traded blows while Trebon eventually dropped-off the pace following a crash. Fortunately, Trebon would rebound, riding the rest of the chase group off his wheel en-route to a third-place finish. Ahead, Powers picked-up the win after establishing a large gap while Johnson pitted during the last lap.
Gloucesterâ€™s second day looked eerily similar to the other races this season as Powers launched a first lap attack, whittling the lead group down to a select few. Following the usual script, Powers and Johnson then escaped, leaving Trebon to do the bulk of the chasing. Jamey Driscoll attempted to join his teammates at the front of the race; he came very close, but never reached the leading duo. He held-on for third though, making it a Cyclocrossworld.com sweep with Johnson taking the win.
Behind Cyclocrossworld.comâ€™s destruction, several riders had great weekends. Trebon looked very strong despite finishing outside the top-10 on Sunday. Valentin Scherz picked-up a pair of top-10 finishes, making him the top U23 rider both days. Tristan Schouten proved heâ€™s no one-hit wonder, finishing inside the top-10 both days as well. In addition, the Italians, Davide Frattini and Luca Damiani both made their presence felt. Finally, six-time Nation Champion, Jesse Anthony put in two great days in front of a â€œhometownâ€ New England crowd with a pair of top-10 finishes of his own.
On the left side of the country, UCI cross racing returned to sunny California for the Krosstoberfest weekendâ€”the first time in two years that California featured a pair of UCI races. In another pair of firsts, Joachim Parbo and Danny Summerhill each took their first ever UCI wins. Both riders battled extremely hot weather and surprisingly strong fields in Southern California to emerge victorious.
Parboâ€™s victory didnâ€™t come without a bit of drama. Behind the very fast and young duo of Summerhill and Zach McDonald, Parbo spent the bulk of the race in the chase group. After bridging across late, Parbo made his last-ditch move on the penultimate lap, holding-on for a solo victory. Sundayâ€™s race took an entirely different shape as roadie Chris Jones set the pace for the bulk of the day. After multiple attacks, Jones and Summerhill were able to break away from a strong chase group that included Saturdayâ€™s winner Parbo. Summerhill outsprinted Jones, to take his first UCI victory.
Domestic Power Ranking – Week 3
1. Tim Johnson (2) – Johnson takes over the #1 spot after he spent another weekend swapping victories with teammate Jeremy Powers. That said, Johnson looked like the better rider both days. (If it werenâ€™t for an ill-timed pit stop, he most likely would have taken both victories.) Johnson is clearly the best rider in the US right now.
2. Jeremy Powers (1) – Powers continued to look very impressive in Gloucester. His victory on Saturday was well deserved and his trademark attack on Sunday set the stage for an impressive Cyclocrossworld.com podium sweep. Bottom line: Iâ€™m still not convinced that Powers is better than Johnson, especially if the course turns a bit technical. For now, he remains the second-best rider in the US.
3. Ryan Trebon (3) – The biggest victim of Cyclocrossworld.comâ€™s domination continues to be Trebon. Heâ€™s often forced to chase, which benefits everyone but him. On Saturday he finally tried to attack from the gun, and may have shocked the partisan New England crowd had he not crashed out of the lead group. His 14th on Saturday proves that Trebon continues to struggle with back-to-back races, but his furious pace making both days must be taken into account.
4. Jamey Driscoll (4) – The often forgotten Cyclocrossworld.com rider pulled in a pair of top-5 finishes in Gloucester. His solo effort on Sunday was both painful and exciting to watch. While completing the teamâ€™s sweep Sunday, he came heartbreakingly close to joining his teammates at the front. Driscoll was the most consistent racer in the US last year; it appears heâ€™s looking to continue the trend this year.
5. Davide Frattini (7) – Frattini often fades as the season goes on, especially in bigger races. However, he appears to have nixed that trend this year. Heâ€™s a constant face in the chase group, even at the biggest races in the country. I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll see a marquee victory from Frattini this season, but if he werenâ€™t Italian I would put him on the short list of national title contenders. And at this rate, Iâ€™ll be shocked if he doesnâ€™t get an invite to Worlds.
6. Tristan Schouten (6) – After exploding onto the scene last weekend, Schouten continued his impressive season with a pair of top-10 finishes in Gloucester. More importantly, Schouten proved that he can have success outside of his native midwest. It will be interesting to see how Schouten fares as the season goes on. If he can maintain these kinds of results, heâ€™s a near lock for a top-10 at Nationals.
7. Valentin Scherz (n/r) – After a weekend of local racing, Scherz proved that heâ€™s still a force to be reckoned with as his pair of seventh-placeâ€™s made him the top U23 rider on both days. (Itâ€™s too bad the NACT doesnâ€™t have an U23 class, though.) It will be interesting to see how Scherz progresses with better start positions in some of the upcoming races. Right now, Iâ€™d say heâ€™s the best U23 rider in the US.
8. Justin Lindine (8) – Lindine continued his New England success with a pair of top-10â€™s in Gloucester and Iâ€™m sure he is thinking further down the road about a NECCS title. With his continued success, heâ€™s also a rider to watch as his start positions improve.
9. Luca Damiani (10) â€“ Moving-up one spot this week, the Italian put in two great rides in Gloucester. He finished just outside the top-10 Saturday, but rebounded with a stellar fourth-place finish Sunday. The Italian is still figuring out how to race against the top US pros, but continues to improve and impress each week.
10. Todd Wells (5) – After the Planet Bike Cup, Wells announced that heâ€™d be taking a 2-week break. Wells remains in the Power Rankings though, because I believe heâ€™s still one of the ten best riders in the country. Heâ€™s had some solid results this season; I expect them to get better with time. Hopefully heâ€™s doing some training in between rounds of golf.
Dropped this week: Geoff Kabush (9).
After an exciting weekend of racing on both coasts, some riders will take a small break, while the rest will be split between Ohio and Rhode Island. The Cincinnati Cyclocross Festival returns this year with its trio of UCI races. Jeremy Powers took the hat trick last year and would love to repeat that success this weekend. Powers will have his hands-full though, with his biggest challenge coming from Ryan Trebon. Driscoll and Johnson arenâ€™t making the trip and Trebon is desperate for a winâ€”expect fireworks. Throw-in Joachim Parbo, Tristan Schouten, Chris Jones, local favorite, Ryan Knapp, and many others, and we have the makings of a showdown in the Midwest.
Meanwhile, the bulk of New England riders will focus their attention to two days of racing in Rhode Island. Saturdayâ€™s course is a near replica of the 2005 National Championship, while Sundayâ€™s will be a technical variation of Saturdayâ€™s. With a smaller, but still powerful field, several riders will have the opportunity to pick-up their first UCI winâ€”or twoâ€”of the season.
Come back tomorrow for our International Report and Power Rankingâ€”and share your comments and picks below.Â Anyone over or underrated?Â Let us know!