Fort Collins, Colorado hosted Rounds Five and Six of the USGP this past weekend. As a result, virtually all of North America’s best cross racers were in attendance. And while all odds were on another weekend of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com domination, everyone quickly realized that this weekend would be different. In fact, this past weekend provided the biggest surprises and craziest action the US has seen all season.
On Saturday, USGP leader Jeremy Powers took the hole shot, only to be passed by Ryan Trebon. Then, things were quickly turned upside down when Geoff Kabush took-off. Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com’s Jamey Driscoll set-off in pursuit of the Canadian, but Kabush continued to extend his gap on Driscoll and the rest of the field before a dropped chain gave Driscoll to the lead.
But Kabush was not to be outdone–he caught and passed Driscoll, putting 22 seconds into the Vermonter by day’s end. Behind, Trebon and Todd Wells were able to pull away from Tim Johnson. Trebon crashed coming into the final lap, allowing Wells to take control of third–at least until he had an incident of his own. In the end, Trebon wound-up third, Wells fourth, and Johnson rounded-out the podium in fifth. Powers rolled across the line in seventh place, putting teammate Johnson into the USGP leader’s jersey.
Sunday’s race began much the same as Powers quickly took the hole shot. This time however, he was able to hold his effort, drawing-out a select group including Johnson, Kabush, Wells and Trebon. Trebon and Powers took turns attacking one another and the group, shedding Wells and Kabush in the process. Once Powers suffered a flat tire, the race became a two-man affair.
After trading multiple attacks, Trebon made a critical mistake sending him off-track, into the course tape, and over his bars–effectively ending his day. Johnson quickly stretched his newfound gap, distancing himself from a chase group containing Powers–who rebounded from a second flat tire–Wells, and Kabush–who soon came unhitched, leaving Powers and Wells to battle for second.
Both riders bunny-hopped the barriers each lap in an effort to keep the pressure on one another. This proved costly for Wells, who slammed into one of the barriers, injuring his leg and forcing him to abandon. Johnson’s lead was safe by this point and Kabush’s inability to close the gap to Powers gave the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team the top two spots on the podium. Kabush was able to hold off Jamey Driscoll though, preventing a potential podium sweep for the men in green and black. Adam Craig capped-off a strong ride to finish fifth.
While some riders chose not to make the trip to Colorado, some who did found a mix of bad legs and bad luck. And while it was a challenging and treacherous weekend for many, how it will affect the rest of their seasons remains to be seen. Let’s see how it affects this week’s Power Rankings:
Domestic Power Rankings – Week #10
1. Tim Johnson (2) – Johnson’s victory Sunday is a major morale booster ahead of his next European campaign. He’s virtually maxed-out the available UCI points in the US, so his trip to Europe makes sense. More importantly, he’s now in full control of the USGP overall with two rounds remaining. His closest competition? Teammate Jeremy Powers.
2. Jeremy Powers (1) – Saturday’s seventh-place was obviously a bit of a disappointment, but, a second-place Sunday after a flatting twice should make up for it. Powers is probably the only one capable of grabbing the leader’s jersey from Johnson, something he’s admitted is one of his season goals.
3. Geoff Kabush (6) – I’m still disappointed that Kabush skipped Canadian Nationals a week ago. However, he was the only rider to podium both days in Fort Collins, meaning his weekend off was definitely worth it. Despite his impressive haul, it’s impossible for him to take the USGP overall, even if Powers and Johnson don’t score another point. Regardless, Kabush picked-up his first USGP win since 2004, this past weekend; and looks poised for a solid last half of the season.
4. Todd Wells (3) – The good news is that Wells’ leg isn’t broken; the bad news is he’s pretty banged-up. Obviously he’ll take this weekend off; I hope he’s ready in time for the three days of Jinglecross racing in Iowa following Thanksgiving. He has a lot to live up to after sweeping all three races last year.
5. Ryan Trebon (4) – Everything looked good for Trebon until he launched over his handlebars and landed on his back Sunday. He still managed to finish eleventh–very impressive. Trebon has been pretty beat-up over the past few weeks; I think he needs to take some time off if he really wants to take a run at a National Championship. Unfrotunately, he still needs those UCI points for a solid starting position.
6. Jamey Driscoll (8) - Driscoll should probably be inside the top-5 this week, but his inconsistency over the past few weeks leaves him six. Two top-5’s are definitely signs that his form is coming around though. Hopefully he can keep it up until Nationals.
7. Valentin Scherz (5) – Scherz drops a few spots, which really isn’t his fault. He stayed local and won Staten CX 3.0 in New York, beating Erik Tonkin and others. He’ll round out his US campaign in New York this weekend. He may not be a heavily marked rider when he heads back to Europe, but I’m sure that will quickly change.
8. Adam Craig (10) – After last weekend’s pair of UCI victories, Craig netted two top-10 finishes in Colorado. If Craig keeps this up, he may have an outside shot at a national title. For now though, he just needs to keep riding well against the best in the country.
9. Luca Damiani (7) – Damiani is still recovering from his deep leg gash suffered last weekend in Massachusetts. My guess is he’ll take another weekend off before the NACT and NECCS head to Massachusetts. He’s had a stellar season that has recently been marred by bad luck. Hopefully he can rebound and finish the year strong.
10. Zach McDonald (n/a) - McDonald’s pair of top-10’s netted him the top U23 spots in Colorado. McDonald is a Northwesterner, which means he’s gunning for the U23 national title in Bend. His biggest nemesis could be Luke Keough, who finished well behind this past weekend. Led by these two impressive youngsters, the U23 class is shaping up very nicely in the US.
Dropped this week: Davide Frattini (9).
This upcoming weekend is the last mini lull that the US will have a head of Nationals. It’s been one exciting weekend after another. I was knocked-out by a cold this past weekend and as a result missed my chance for previews and predictions column. But I promise it will be back this week–look for it on Friday.
For now, share your comments below.