SUN PRAIRIE, WISCONSIN – Racing at the Sun Prairie Planet Bike USGP could not have been more different than the conditions facing the racers at CrossVegas. Temperatures were in the high forties by the time the women took to the start line, and with an on-and-off drizzle, it was truly fall-like ’cross conditions at their finest – a far cry from the hot and dry course in Las Vegas.
Elite Women – Compton Shows She’s Ready for the Season
In the women’s race, Gabby Day of Rapha-Focus took the hole shot followed by Caroline Mani of Raleigh-Clement and Katie Compton, racing for the team that saved the USGP, Trek. Mani quickly took over the lead, and the other Frenchwoman, Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) moved into the front after her. Nicole Duke, also racing for Raleigh-Clement, had a spill in the first lap, knocking her far into the back of the race within the first lap.
Krasniak led into the second lap, followed closely by Compton and Day, with Antonneau chasing. It did not take long, however, before Compton took the lead, followed closely by the other three. Behind them, Meredith Miller of Cal Giant and Georgia Gould of Luna were closing fast, despite Gould’s slower start.
With four laps to go, Compton had pushed her lead to ten seconds lead on the other racers. The field was largely unchanged, but Gould had moved up considerably into eighth position.
Miller, Gould and Antonneau began working together to catch Day and Krasniak, who, by halfway through the race, had lost 25 seconds to Compton’s powerful and early attack. The small field was strung out almost immediately, with local talent scattered throughout the field. Compton, sporting her National Champion jersey, put up a sub-seven minute lap, one of the fastest of the day. Even in the sharp curves before the finish, Compton was looking confident, staying low in the drops through the corners and standing as she hit the pavement going into three laps to go.
Gould stood as she hit the pavement, jumping ahead of Miller and Antonneau, hunting for the two teammates. With two and a half laps to go, the Luna rider had created a few seconds of space between herself and the Rapha-Focus women and Miller. Antonneau was just a few seconds back and chasing.
Just before they hit the finish area, Krasniak had a spill in a corner, forcing her to chase back on to Day and Miller, who gapped her with one to go.
Compton’s indomitable lead made her victory nearly a certainty since lap two, and Gould’s flier off the chase group midway through the race assured her a comfortable second. In the battle for third, Day and Miller were locked in a heated battle in the last lap, but Day took the last podium spot with a comfortable margin.
Elite Men – Powers Continues His Winning Ways
In the men’s race, the sun was peaking out, though the temperatures remained much lower than what racers had been used to on the East Coast at Rochester and Nittany, and certainly cooler than Vegas. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) took the hole shot, but Ryan “Treefarm” Trebon quickly took the lead, followed by Powers and teammate Tim Johnson.
Not known for his cyclocross prowess when put in comparison to his impressive MTB palmares, Lukas Fluckinger of Trek World Racing and the Swiss nation MTB champion, took the lead early. Trebon and Powers chased the Swiss racer. The Trek sponsorship of the USGP series is certainly creating an interesting dynamic to the season, since they aren’t only sponsoring the race, they are also fielding some of the best riders in the race. The four were followed by Johnson and Page, with McDonald not far behind. But within a few minutes, Fluckinger took a spill and Trebon, seizing the opportunity, attacked and moved back to the front.
With two fast and furious laps out of the way, Trebon was still in the front, going through the finish with Johnson, Powers and Fluckinger trading places in the chase. Heading into seven laps to go, Powers got a small gap along with Page, who moved up a group, following with Johnson. Driscoll, Trebon and Fluckinger were chasing seconds behind. Powers’ teammate Chris Jones continued to push to regain a better position, coming closer and closer to the lead group.
Early on the in the race, which served as both the elite and U23 race, Zach McDonald took an early and dominant lead over Yannick Ekmann, Evan McNeely and Cody Kaiser.
Powers, Johnson, Page and Trebon rolled through the finish with six to go, all separated by mere seconds, followed by Driscoll and Ben Berden. Behind them, the race stretched out into small pockets of racers clinging to each others’ wheels as they looped around the winding, oft off-cambered course. Powers dropped the hammer and created a ten second gap, pulling through the finish line as quickly as possible as behind him teammates Johnson and Trebon stood to chase. Further back, Page was chasing solo, and Driscoll and Berden were hot on his heels.
In the top 10 were also the Wisconsin locals Tristan Schouten, Brian Matter and Matt Shiner, sticking together to reel in riders. The lap times were getting faster by four laps to go, and Powers had increased his lead to 11 seconds. Jones had worked his way up and was sitting with Jonathan Page, hunting down the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld teammates.
However, while Jones and Powers were having successful days, McDonald had pulled out of the race with a sinus infection acting up, leaving the spot for first place in the U23 place open.
Trebon and Johnson were working together with three laps to go, which led to the question of how the team dynamics of the new team would play out. Would the two work together, or battle for the second place slot? Powers continued to expand his lead, followed by the two teammates, with Chris Jones chasing the dynamic duo. Behind him, Driscoll and Fluckinger chased as well.
Trebon had a mechanical and was forced to run for the pit, and Jones seized the opportunity to slip into third spot, standing up and putting out as much power as possible to catch up with Johnson. Fluckinger also made his way around Trebon, who was furiously trying to regain his position with two to go.
With two to go, Powers’ lead over Johnson was impressive at fifteen seconds. Third place was now held by Fluckinger, who earlier in the race lost his lead due to a dropped chain on the back of the course, with Jones hot on his wheel. Johnson’s pain face was apparent as he stood up to get maximum speed going into the second to last lap of the race with Powers still just in his sights. With one lap to go, the gap between Powers and Johnson was steady at fifteen seconds, and Jones and Fluckinger were battling hard for third spot. Page, Driscoll and Berden were close behind, fighting for fifth spot.
Powers came into the finish as the uncontested winner, followed by a happy but exhausted Johnson. Fluckinger rolled in for third, followed by Jones, Berden, Trebon and Page. In the U23 field, Evan McNeely took the win, followed by Yannick Eckmann and Cody Kaiser, both of Cal-Giant.