Thoroughly in the middle of New England Cyclocross Holy Week – bookended by the GP Gloucester, and Providence – North America’s major cyclocross action shifts to the East Coast. It’s a definitive part of the season, bringing together visiting Europeans and a top field of North Americans for perhaps the strongest racing yet this season. After the dust settled in Gloucester, here are the North American top ten as we see it, going into a split-field weekend of Providence and the USGP Rounds #3 and #4:
1. Jeremy Powers occupies a spot he’s comfortable with, but it wasn’t easy. After a tiring month of travel chasing early points, Powers came into Gloucester with quite a bit of pressure. He animated both days of racing, only unable to shed Christian Heule on Day 1, but came away with a 2nd place and Win for his efforts. He’s looking like the J-Pow of last year – which is incredible, because he’s still a ways away from top form.
2. Ryan Trebon – Treefarm stays high on the rankings after a couple weeks as #1 -despite not traveling across the continent to race at Gloucester, an abstention that drew some criticism. Nonetheless, Trebon is looking confident. With strong early performances, including a USGP win over Bart Wellens, Trebon’s set the stage for an interesting season.
3. Christian Heule was the one man who could keep pace with Jeremy Powers at Day 1 of Gloucester, and may have won in the end only due to a slight bobble by Powers, who overcooked the final corner.
4. Tim Johnson is off his top form but it can’t be denied that it’s coming on. He spent Day 2 of Gloucester pulling out a larger and larger gap over the chase group, and was only reeled in by a magnificent Powers. Johnson held on for second. He’s still looking for a big win this season, but the way he’s coming around, it won’t be too long.
5. Ben Berden - The visiting Belgian recently committed to spending the entire season in North America; in his month or so of racing here he’s gotten his sea legs under him with respect to American cyclocross courses and style, steadily progressing up the results sheet to grab 4th and a 3rd at Gloucester. His presence animates races – and makes things a bit harder for native racers.
6. Jamey Driscoll – the young member of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com combination is off the pace set by his older teammates, but manages to place 5th in just about every race he’s entered lately. His consistency belies his spark – he’ll have a few brilliant races in his legs this season.
7. Nicholas Bazin - Two top tens this past weekend show what this Frenchman can do when a full field of American talent comes to the East Coast. Bazin’s made it his home lately, and has a handful of C2 wins to show for it. This past weekend was his first foray into the country’s strongest field, though, and he acquitted himself admirably.
8. Tristan Schouten – steady progression is the name of the game for Schouten, who took two top tens (including a 6th place). It might be difficult for him to claw his way into the top tier, especially if he waits until everybody else finds form to find his own, but – as last year – it’s hard to write him off for solid performances here and there. A podium’s not out of his grasp.
9. Zach McDonald – Like a handful of others making first appearances on the weekly Power Rankings this year, Powers’ young teammate is finding his legs, coming around to fill out the group chasing the guys who will stand on the podium. Steay progression is the name of the game in CX. If he can meter his efforts he might be able to get to the point where he’s trading blows with the big boys.
10. Justin Lindine. The East Coast’s local hero had to put up with talent coming from all over the world to his backyard races, and took 8th and 11th for his troubles. Lindine is regionally strong and manages to keep his head above water in national-level fields.