It’s hard to believe it’s October already. It seems like just yesterday we were talking about what may happen this upcoming cross season. This past weekend was another action-packed weekend throughout the cross world. Here in North America, Gloucester provided two days of racing in the heart of New England.
Gran Prix of Gloucester (C1/C2)
The Shimano NEPCX series headed to the hallowed ground of Gloucester, MA for a pair of UCI races. Often called “New England Worlds,” Gloucester featured a who’s who of North American and European talent. The only noticeable absentees were Jonathan Page, Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters, who all headed over to Europe for the rest of the season, and Ryan Trebon, who opted to spend some time at home rather then criss-cross the continent.
Powers v. Johnson was the theme of the weekend and the two riders didn’t disappoint. Both riders were involved in the early action on day one, but a mechanical would eventually cost Johnson precious seconds and a shot at victory. Powers was the main animator of the race – maybe he read our Open Letter to J-POW and it gave him the boost he needed. However, Johnson’s teammate, Swiss national champion Christian Heule, managed to cling to Powers’ wheel throughout the race. He capitalized on a last-second mistake by Powers (who overcooked a late corner) to take the victory. Completing the European sandwich was Brit Ian Field – more on him below.
Day two of the GP of Gloucester was even more spectacular then day one. Tim Johnson took off early, gaining a 25-second gap on a chase group that included Heule and Powers. With Heule playing team tactics, it was Powers who would drive the pace to manage Johnson’s gap. One by one he shook off members of the chase group before storming away to reel in, catch, and then attack Johnson. Powers would hold on to his lead, while Belgian Ben Berden would round out the top three behind Johnson. It was an impressive display of power and mastery from Powers, and a big win to boot.
After an excellent weekend of racing, a few things have become clear. Johnson and Powers aren’t on form quite yet, as both riders are looking further down the road toward the National Championships and World Championships in January. That’s pretty scary (particularly to their competition), considering how fast they are right now. Ian Field, whose North American campaign came to an unhappy end following a collision with a fan on Sunday, should be on the front row in the upcoming Superprestige and World Cup races. Like Johnson and Powers, he’s not quite on top form, but he’s really talented and now has a bit of confidence in him.
On the local side of things, many of the top elite New Englanders struggled against the world class field, which was a bit of bummer to an excellent weekend. Also, the truly local-boy, Jessey Anthony called it quits on a storied cross career after making one final Gloucester appearance.
Finally, Helen Wyman simply dominated the weekend, picking up another pair of victories. She’s undefeated this season on North American soil, and could really shake things up when she heads back to Europe.