by Joe Bellante with additional coverage by Molly Hurford
CINCINNATI, OHIO – The first race with the Euro crew assembled for Worlds next week is in the books, and it’s clear that despite a trans-Atlantic voyage, nothing is stopping the Euro invasion. Niels Albert took the win in the men’s race at Cincinnati Kings International Cyclocross, followed by a hard-charging Wietse Bosmans. However, it was American Jeremy Powers who surprised the crowds by coming up from seventh mid-race to snag third, just ahead of Jonathan Page. In the absence of Helen Wyman (Kona) and Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), Katerina Nash and teammate Georgia Gould put on the Luna show in the Women’s Elite race, finishing one-two with Swiss Champ Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus) in third. Despite temperatures below freezing, the sun came out to melt the snow, turning the frozen course of the morning frozen into slick but not too sticky mud throughout the afternoon.
The fans came to see the World Champion in Cincinnati and that’s exactly what Niels Albert (BKCP Powerplus) gave them. After graciously signing autographs and posing for pictures, he took to the front from the start and turned the screws. Stringing out the group over the camel-hump switchback feature, the rubber band snapped. Albert led the front group with Vojtech Nipl (Czech National Team), teammate Wietse Bosmans and US National Champion Jonathan Page (ENG VT) on his wheel coming down the flyover. Surprisingly Page was not wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey, but rather his team kit with stars only on his blue leg warmers.
Within two laps however, Albert’s power was too much for the others and he rode off the front with a 9 second gap to the chasing trio of Nipl, Bosmans and Page. At the halfway point, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) after being stuck in early traffic, finally showed his face near the front only a few seconds behind the Page, Nipl and Bosmans group.
Then the wheels came off for Nipl. As he faded, the rest smelled blood. Bosmans and Page dug hard in an effort to solidify the podium. Meanwhile, with three laps to go, Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) and Powers found Nipl and worked together on the soft climb to the pit.
With two to go, Page began to lose his grip on Bosmans. Seeing the fading Page, Powers dug hard and broke free of Trebon. The effort gassed Nipl, who would drop to seventh behind Radomir Simunek (Kwadro-Stannah). While it may have been a day at the office for Albert, it was a stellar ride for Jeremy Powers and, finishing ahead of Page, perhaps a little redemption from the US National Championships. Ohio Valley Local Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill) who will represent the US at the World Championships in Louisville next week had a stellar ride and finished 10th.
Post-race, Bosmans said, “I’m a little bit tired … It’s going to be interesting next week.”
Powers said, “Today wasn’t a day to go 100%. We always knew I was going to start easy and put it on at the end … The course was very slick, unpredictable, and it got worse as the race went on … It’s nice to see where I stack up right now.”
Johnson joked with the crowd, saying, “Judging by the race I just had, I was trying to get all the crashing out of the way.”
Who’s that Rapha Focus girl? Jasmin Achermann was a new face to many of the fans at the Kings International Cyclocross and for good reason. In a post-race interview, the Swiss Champion confided it was her first visit to the United States. Behind Katerina Nash and Luna teammate Georgia Gould, she put on quite the clinic.
From the gun, and much like Albert, Nash took to the front of the field and broke a five second gap on the first lap, up and down the camel-hump feature and over the flyover. “I had a really good race. The conditions were challenging, yet I think that’s part of cyclocross … Every time you start thinking, ‘I’m so good,’ you wipe out,” Nash later explained, citing her 20-21 PSI tire combination as the winning pressures.
A chase group never materialized. Gould remained in second the whole race with Achermann in third. She smiled at the post-race press conference when asked about the “Heckle-Ghoul,” an OVCX creation where you type in a heckle and it shouts it back out, in real life. “I was thinking, no one is going to come out to this race, it’s freezing, the season is over. So that you guys so much for coming out.”
When asked if she was taking the race seriously, putting in a full effort, Gould joked with the crowd about a “recovery effort,” bu seriously added, “I dig deep in every race that I do.”
Achermann said that as her first time racing in the US, she’s been enjoying herself: “First time in USA, first race in USA. I like the guys here, I think they help the riders a lot, they speak and ‘hup-hup.’”
Behind Nash, Gould and Achermann, Canadian Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club) impressively rode the barriers in fourth.
Making a great comeback after an early race crash, Meredith Miller (Cal-Giant) worked her way through traffic and began to knock on Harlton’s door. With mud all up her back Miller made the pass, but it didn’t last long. Harlton turned on the jets, and took fourth place back in the closing laps.
Stay tuned for a full race report as well as a profile of Albert’s winning bike and an interview with Simunek, Bosmans and Albert in their temporary RV home pre-race, where they tell Cyclocross Magazine all about their US experiences so far.