Brian Matter stole the show at this past weekend’s North Carolina GP. The two-day UCI affair has become the marquee weekend of the ever-expanding North Carolina cross calendar. Davide Frattini, a North Carolina resident, was the heavy favorite heading into the weekend, but the Italian just missed the top spot after taking a few weeks off. Midwest star Ryan Knapp finished behind Frattini, picking-up a pair of third places. Overall, it was a great weekend for all three but especially Matter and Knapp, as they racked-up precious UCI points ahead of Nationals in December.
The rest of the domestic cross contingent was relatively quiet, with the exception of Valentin Scherz, who spent his last weekend in the US in New York at a pair of MAC races. While the events lost their UCI-points following a venue change, they still enjoyed stellar fields for the MAC finale. Other participants included Luke and Jesse Keough, Johnny Bold, and Jeff Bohnson–all of whom will be favorites in their respective age groups at Nationals.
Finally, Tim Johnson made a return trip to Europe this past weekend for the Superprestige event in Gavere. It was the first time that I can remember that a US rider started on the front row in such a major European cyclocross race. Johnson finished an impressive 12th and is staying in Europe for next weekend’s World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium. More importantly, he continues to accrue UCI points, something he cannot do stateside.
So with only two riders from last week’s Power Ranking in action this weekend, things remain relatively static. Here’s a rundown–and preview of things to come. Enjoy!
Domestic Power Ranking – Week 10
1. Tim Johnson (1) - Johnson’s first row starting position ended-up being a moot point as he struggled during the first half-lap in Gavere. As a result, the National Champion had to battle back, never quite making contact with the front group. If Johnson has a better first lap at the World Cup this weekend, he could easily finish inside the top-10.
2. Jeremy Powers (2) – Powers will not be heading to this weekend’s World Cup. Instead, he’ll stay close to home and head to the NACT finale in Massachusetts. And with Johnson absent, he’s is a near lock for the overall title. Believe it or not, Powers has not maxed-out his UCI Cat. 2 points yet, so a victory this weekend will give him a net gain of 10. Every little bit helps!
3. Geoff Kabush (3) – Kabush is on a roll right now as the US season winds down. Unfortunately, he’s not in the running for the NACT overall, so he may skip this weekend to avoid a bit of travel ahead of the final USGP rounds in Oregon. If he does show though, he’ll be an instant podium candidate.
4. Todd Wells (4) - I’m going out on a limb to say Todd Wells fails to repeat his 2009 hat trick in Iowa this weekend. With Sunday’s race being a UCI Cat. 1 event, a lot of riders are heading to Jingle Cross Rock for three days of UCI point-filled action. Wells will win at least one of the races though, and should hit the podium in all three.
5. Ryan Trebon (5) – Trebon is one of the riders to have finally discovered Jingle Cross Rock. He still needs valuable UCI points and the three races in Iowa are a perfect opportunity for him tom improve his start position for Nationals. This will be Trebon’s last weekend away from his native Oregon. He should podium every day, but I don’t think he can put consecutive victories together–I see him winning one race.
6. Jamey Driscoll (6) - In a bit of a surprise, Driscoll is skipping the races in New England and heading to Iowa. His results have started to improve and now is the prime time to gain some UCI points. While he won’t pick-up a victory, he should be on the podium two out of the three days.
7. Valentin Scherz (7) – A big congratulations goes out to the Swiss Sensation who concluded a stellar domestic season by winning his last race on US soil–and wrapping-up a the MAC overall title in the process. Scherz heads back to Europe this week and will return to action at the World Cup in Koksijde on Saturday. It will be very interesting to see how he does. I think he’ll finish inside the top-10, with an outside chance at a top-5–as a U23, that is.
8. Adam Craig (8) – Craig’s name isn’t on any of this weekend’s start lists, so I’m not sure what he’s doing. If he decides to race, he’ll head to Iowa. Otherwise, he’ll take another weekend-off ahead of a run for a national title.
9. Luca Damiani (9) – After a string of bad luck and injuries, Damiani should return to action this weekend in New England. No matter what he does, I hope he rebounds to end his season on a positive note.
10. Zach McDonald (10) – I think McDonald will surprise a few people with a podium finish in Iowa. He will not pick-up a victory, but he’ll definitely be looking to refine his form and grab some UCI points before Nationals in December.
That’s it for this week. I hope everyone stateside has a great Thanksgiving. Look for my International Report and Power Ranking later this week.
Leave your comments and predictions below.