The weekend before Nationals is always one of the best weekends of racing in the US. Everyone going to Nationals races and they bring virtually everything they have in anticipation of the following Sundayâ€™s showdown in Bend, Oregon. This weekend featured great racing on both coasts with the NBX GP (the Verge NECCS series finale) in Rhode Island and the USGP finale in Portland, Oregon. Both events provided a pair of UCI races and both of their respective overall titles were still up for grabs.
In Rhode Island, Adam Myerson came out on top at Day 1 of the NBX Grand Prix in Warwick. Myerson began the race as part of a large group that slowly whittled down over the course of the hour. In the end, he won a two-up sprint against Canadian Derrick St. John to take his second UCI victory of yearâ€”career. 40-seconds later, Justin Lindine outsprinted Christian Favata for third place, keeping himself in the NECCS leadâ€”by a slim margin over Myerson.
On Sunday, all eyes were on a 5-man leading group as Lindine and Myerson as they battled for the overall title. While many expected Myerson to win the day, it was Nick Keough who outkicked the rest of the leaders in the closing meters to take the victory. Myerson took second in the sprint ahead of St. John and Lindine.Â The gap between the two was enough for Myerson to take the NECCS overall titleâ€”and a considerable amount of momentum heading into Nationals.
Heading west, like the NECCS finale, the USGP was up for grabs between two menâ€”only this time, theyâ€™re teammates. Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers entered the weekend separated by a handful of points. Powers was fresh from his double victory in Massachusetts, while Johnson was returning to the US after an up-and-down two-week European stint.
As has become his style, Powers kicked-off the weekend with a win in Portland on Saturday. He used his usual fast start to establish a good gap, taking Ryan Trebon and Chris Jones with him. Like last Saturday in Belgium, Johnson had another poor start and ended-up in a chasing group with Todd Wells and Jesse Anthony. At the end of the fourth lap, Trebon went down, separating Jones and himself from Powers. Jones was never able to reconnect though and a few laps later, disaster struck for Trebon as he sheared-off his rear derailleur over half a lap from the pits. Needless to say, Powers was able to solo to victory, finishing almost 30-seconds ahead of Jones. Johnson was able to recover from his bad start to finish thirdâ€”tying him with his teammates for the USGP heading into Sundayâ€™s final round.
Thus, with Powers and Johnson even on points, Sundayâ€™s race was expected to be a no-holds-barred brawl between the two teammatesâ€”and the men looking to steal one last bit of glory. Clearly upset following the previous dayâ€™s mechanical, Trebon grabbed the hole-shot and led the first lap. Unfortunately, he could not match the speed of Johnson who quickly attacked on the second lap, dropping the Kona rider like a stone. Powers was initially left out of the action, but he managed to get across to Johnson by the end of the third lap, passing Trebon and Todd Wells in the process.
The rest of the race featured repeated attempts from each rider to rid himself of his teammate. Heading into the barriers one last time though, Powers bunny-hopped them while Johnson elected to run. Despite Johnsonâ€™s lightening fast remount, Powers hit the pavement first, giving him just enough room to take the win. Behind, Trebon was able to hold a slight advantage over the last half-lap, on his way to a third-place finish ahead of Wells.
It was a thrilling weekend to say the least. Myerson proved that heâ€™s ready for what may be his last race as an elite while Johnson, Powers, Trebon and Wells gave us all sneak preview of what might be the best National Championships in years. Where does everyone fall in the Power Ranking? Time to find out.
Domestic Power Rankings â€“ Week #12
1. Jeremy Powers (1) – Four-straight UCI wins have netted Powers his first USGP and NACT overall titles. More importantly, he seems unbeatable with less than a week before Nationals as he simply simply out-rode his closest competition on both days. At this point, heâ€™s the #1 favorite for Bend.
2. Tim Johnson (2) – After a European campaign that was filled with mixed results and poor starts, Johnsonâ€™s struggles continued Saturday.Â Luckily, he was able to recover by the end of the race, and on Sunday, he looked like the Johnson of oldâ€”except he was unable to drop Powers. Heâ€™s worn the stars and stripes proudly for the last yearâ€”he wonâ€™t give them up easily.
3. Ryan Trebon (5) – Trebon suffered his first race ending mechanical when he sheared-off his rear derailleur on Saturday. His third-place ride Sunday was an expected consolation and it was nice to see him set the pace for the first lap. Now his bad-luck season has come down to one race in Bendâ€”a victory there would certainly right the ship. That said, he has yet to prove he can beat both Johnson and Powers.
4. Todd Wells (4) â€“ Wellsâ€™ poor result Saturday (fifth) convinced him to stick around for Sundayâ€™s raceâ€”he finished fourth. Once again, Wells is a contender for a national title, but heâ€™s going to need to have the race of his life in order to win.
5. Chris Jones (7) – Jones jumps to the fifth this week after his podium on Saturday and top-ten finish on Sunday. Jones has the ability to produce a stellar result at Nationals, but seems to struggle to maintain the pace needed to keep him in the lead group. As the face of the new Rapha-Focus team, I think a top-5 at Nationals would make his new sponsors proud.
6. Jamey Driscoll (3) – The â€œstudious oneâ€ drops a few spots this week after nabbing a pair of seventh-place finishes in Portland. Driscoll pulled-out two solid victories in Iowa, but seemed to settle back into the chase group this past weekend. If anyone can pull off an epic one-race performance, itâ€™s Driscoll.Â Look-out for him Sunday.
7. Jesse Anthony (n/a) – Anthony returns to the rankings this week in seventh. Heâ€™s shown sporadic signs of success and domination this year, but his good results have been few and far between. Perhaps heâ€™s perfectly designed his peak for Nationals? Weâ€™ll find out next weekend.
8. Geoff Kabush (6) – The Canadianâ€™s season was one of his best in recent memory. He finished inside the top-10 on both Saturday and Sunday against stiff competition. Itâ€™s unclear yet if he plans to extend his season or if heâ€™s going to call it quits and get ready for next yearâ€™s mountain bike campaign.
9. Adam Myerson (n/a) – For the first time, Myerson makes the Power Rankings after a strong season capped-off with a UCI victory and a NECCS title. I donâ€™t think Myerson will contend for a national title, but a top-10 finish is not out of the question. Myersonâ€™s biggest advantage will be his front row start.Â Heâ€™s the tenth American in the UCI rankings. With Jonathan Page skipping Nationals and Luke Keough doing the U23 race, that gives him the eighth and final spot on the front row. Hopefully he can prove he belongs there.
10. Zach McDonald (n/a) – McDonald finished just outside the top-10 on Sunday, but gets the last spot in the rankings because he has been so consistent this season. I expect a big performance out of him in Bend.
Dropped this week: Adam Craig (8), Barry Wicks (9) and Troy Wells (10)
And there you have itâ€”come back all this week for more gossip, previews, and predictions.
Share your comments below.