Johnson Continues His Run at the Top © Tom Olesnevich
Sure, USAC and UCI have their own cyclocross rankings. And with the USGP, NACT, MAC and Verge series with UCI points up for grabs and North Americans hitting all of these series, it’s hard to figure out who’s the best of our continent. Enter Cyclocross Magazine’s North American Cyclocross Rankings, the first of its sort, determined by complex mathematical equations calculated only in the head of resident Live Coverage and Fantasy Cyclocross League guru, Jake Sisson. Agree? Think he missed a number? Let us know. Last week’s ranking is in parentheses.
North American Men’s Cyclocross Power Rankings
1 (1). Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
Johnson had a good ride on both days of the Mercer Cup, and he managed to get the win on day two. Johnson was on his game on day one, but the conditions were better for Trebon, so he had to settle for second, but it was a strong second. The Mercer Cup came out as billed, as the the two titans of American cyclocross did epic battle. The battle emerged as a draw, with each getting a win, but Johnson kept his top spot in the Power Rankings due to a dominant performance in more “normal” conditions.
2 (5). Ryan Trebon (Kona)
Trebon signaled his return to the top end of American cyclocross with a hugely dominant win in Saturday’s Mercer Cup. Trebon’s power was unmatched through the thick mud, and despite a bad start on Sunday, he could be called the strongest rider on the weekend. The ultimate decider of the fastest man in North America will be pushed back until Nationals, but at this point its entirely too hard to tell. Johnson’s success on day two could mean the mantle is his at the moment, but Trebon will have lots to say about that.
3 (3). Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
Once again, Driscoll was captain consistency. A third place and a fifth place may not be anything to really write home about, but considering the start list, it’s a hell of a weekend for a man who’s only recently graduated to the big show. Driscoll is proving his worth to the Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com outfit week in and week out. Driscoll’s ride on Saturday was only outdone by what Trebon did, as he had to come back from a long ways back to even sniff the podium. He got there and then some, and could have won, if it weren’t for that start.
4 (5). Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)
Kabush had a ton of bad luck on Saturday, and his 11th place doesn’t do his ride justice. To steal a quote, the mud monster ate his derailleur, and he had to run a long way to salvage his day. Day two’s fourth place was a bit better, but the Canadian champ seems to get ahead of himself in the early stages. He’s a great starter, leading on the first lap each day in New Jersey, but not quite as strong a finisher. Give him a few more races, and he could definitely win in Portland – his final races of the season.
5 (2). Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
Powers sat the weekend out with a pretty strong bug, and as such falls down the list a bit after some good performances by the men previously behind him. Powers will be back in Southampton, where Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld will have all their cards to play. Powers is built for that course, and it could be a good indicator of where he’ll stand come Nationals. Hopefully he’ll be back to 100% and he could walk away with a couple podiums and maybe a win.
6 (8). Chris Jones (Champion Systems)
Chris Jones has been in contention all season but never quite made it over that final hump. Jones probably should have had a USGP podium on Saturday in New Jersey before a crash and a funky mechanical allowed Jamey Driscoll to sail past him in the closing stages of the race, when third looked all but sewn up. Jones suffered on day two and was a bit off his game, but he’s always a player when he comes to town, and deserved to move up after this weekend.
Todd Wells Returned to the Top and Entered the Power Rankings © Tom Olesnevich
7 (-). Todd Wells (Specialized)
Todd Wells is finally back from a nasty infection that delayed his return to cyclocross by a couple weeks. Despite starting in the fourth row, Wells quickly moved through the field, not an easy thing to do against a USGP start list. Wells’ game was truly on on Sunday when he got all the way up to third place. The way he caught, passed, and dismissed the majority of the field was astounding, as he ripped through the likes of Driscoll (3) and Kabush (4) en route to third place. A couple more rides like that, and he’ll be in the Power top three.
8 (6). Adam Craig (Giant Bicycles)
Craig had the same issues to contend with as Todd Wells, coming from the back due to a lack of UCI points. His start positions are improving, however, and you now are forced to compare his results to that of Wells. Craig was not able to move up with the same dominance as Wells, but he still gave it a good run to finish up 12th. A DNF on day two hurts his case to be farther up on the list, but he’ll be in the mix in Southampton this weekend, where his start shouldn’t be as poor.
9 (-). Davide Frattini (Team Fuji)
Frattini may be having the best season you haven’t heard of. He beats a ton of really good riders every week, and yet, you never hear anything about him. Frattini had a fifth and a seventh place finish in New Jersey, and he’s always inside the top ten. He’s also super quick out of the blocks, taking home numerous holeshots, but rarely fading. He’s out of weekend where he could win, but he could grab an odd podium before the sun sets this year.
10 (-). Barry Wicks (Kona)
Barry has been an unknown commodity this year, but he did enough for himself to get onto the top ten following his performances in New Jersey. Wicks’ 7th and 6th places this weekend may be a sign of things to come, or they could just be indicative of where he’ll be riding for the rest of the year. Wicks did also have to pull out a little comeback magic to get up to those finishing positions, but he’s definitely worthy of being in the top ten.
Who fell off the list this week? Dan Timmerman (7), Nick Weighall (9), Josh Dillon (10)
North American Women’s Cyclocross Power Rankings
Who Else but Katie f. Compton © Dan Seaton
1 (1). Katie Compton (Planet Bike)
Another weekend, another big European win for the American Champion. If it weren’t for a final lap crash, Compton would still be undefeated this season. Compton whooped up on World Champion Marianne Vos over the weekend in Gavere, so Compton is by and large the favorite for the World Title this season. She’ll also likely waltz away with the World Cup title. What a haul for the woman who will no doubt win her sixth National Title this December.
2 (2). Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team)
Katerina Nash did what everyone expected her to do in New Jersey, take two commanding wins. She’s got a complete stranglehold on the USGP leaders jersey, and it will be next to impossible for anyone to pry it off of her shoulders. Nash could be a real dark horse for the win in Tabor this January, as the World Championships will be held in Nash’s backyard. Home field advantage does a lot for athletes of Nash’s caliber, and a podium, if not a set of rainbow stripes, would not be a stretch.
3 (4). Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)
Georgia Gould says she’s not taking cyclocross too seriously this season. To say that and to still register a second place in a USGP race really says something about the caliber of racer you are. Gould is clearly showing cracks in her fitness, thanks to her decision to not take things as seriously as in previous years, as her second day results show a big drop from day one. Few would consider a drop of second to fourth a “big drop,” but considering Gould’s pedigree, it is. Gould’s status as favorite for a silver medal this December could be in question.
4 (5). Amy Dombroski (Schlamm)
New team, new bike, same old Amy. Dombroski keeps turning on the speed as the season wears on, and her second place on day two of the Mercer Cup is indicative of how her season has been going. She doesn’t quite seem to be at the point where you’d considering her a complete cyclocross racer, as her seventh place in the thick mud on Saturday shows that she’s may not quite be in the running for an Nationals medal. Worry not, however. She’ll be there. Soon.
Meredith Miller Joins the Power Rankings © Tom Olesnevich
5 (-). Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
Miller came into the USGP weekend as somewhat of an unknown commodity. She’s the current National Road Champion, and an all around great bike rider, but the mud in New Jersey would stand as a true litmus test of her cyclocross potential. Miller’s day one performance was outstanding, almost closing in on Gould for second place. Miller managed to catch Gould on day two and grabbed another third place finish. Miller should be a good bet for a podium in December if she sticks with this ‘cross thing.
6 (3). Alison Dunlap (Luna Pro Team)
Dunlap had, by no means, a very strong weekend in New Jersey, but it looks like Dunlap has reached her capacity in her return to elite cyclocross. Dunlap had a fourth place finish on day one and a fifth place finish on day two, but she’ll have to find that extra bump in the last few weeks of the season if she wants to get back to the promised land – the Nationals podium. A good day could easily get her there, but the top end of the field is pretty full, and it’s not clear who she’d displace
7 (6). Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)
It was odd to not see McConneloug on the start list for the USGP stop in New Jersey. She’s found a slick run of form lately, as evidenced by her two wins in Northampton last weekend, so she could have been in the mix for the top five in New Jersey. Despite strong rides by those ranked behind her this week, she is probably a step above the following trio. Will McConneloug be back on the bike in Southampton, Portland and Bend, or has her season drawn to a close? We’ll all be disappointed if it’s the latter.
8 (10). Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles)
Bruno Roy loves the mud, and just like last year, was able to run and slog her way to the top five on day one at the USGP Mercer Cup. As things dried up, Bruno Roy was at her same level, but others were able to step forward ahead of her. Still, Bruno Roy has had a great season, and is still in the Verge NECCS jersey, which she’ll most likely hold on to and will add it to her trophy case. Should she pursue another Masters title, it will be hers for the taking.
9 (-). Alison Sydor (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)
The race arc of both Alison Sydor and teammate and fellow Canadian Champion Geoff Kabush are eerily similar. Both started out extremely fast on both days, leading the proceedings early, before fading from the front. Sydor’s efforts were extra paid for on Saturday when she faded back to tenth. Sydor’s efforts were preserved a bit more on Sunday when she held on for sixth, but either way, she’s going to have to hang on to that early speed if she wants to move up the Power Rankings list.
10 (7). Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)
You can still tell that Van Gilder is a cyclocross neophyte. Her performances go pretty far down hill when the rain comes out and mud comes into play. The Mercer Cup is a microcosm of Van Gilder’s abilities, slowing her down greatly on Saturday, where she finished 11th, and allowing her to harness her straight line speed on Sunday when things dried up, riding to 7th. Van Gilder’s abilities are continuing to come around, and Southampton may be more her style, so keep an eye on her.
Who fell off the list this week? Natasha Elliott (8), Sue Butler (9)
North American Espoirs Cyclocross Power Rankings
Danny Summerhill Heads the U23 Class © Dejan Smaic / sportifimages.com
1 (-). Daniel Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin)
Summerhill got his season started late this year, only really popping up on the 2009 radar two weeks ago in Colorado. He signaled his full return to the top of the U23 list this past weekend in New Jersey. His 6th place on Saturday and his 11th place on Sunday average out to around an 8th place finish, pretty much where you’d expect the former Worlds silver medalist to finish from week to week. He’s still fresh and should definitely be the top favorite for the U23 national title in Bend.
2 (-). Valentin Scherz (Pro Cycles-Scott)
Scherz did better than Summerhill on Sunday in Mercer, but he’s got more miles on him so far this season, so losing to Summerhill on Saturday means he’s below him on the inaugural U23 power rankings. Scherz starts fast, fades, then picks up steam in the closing stages of the race, and to really be a number one contender, he’ll have to be fast all the way through. It’s neck and neck between he and Summerhill, and the order could tip from weekend to weekend until the season is out.
3 (-). Zach McDonald (Stevens)
McDonald had a great day on day one of the Mercer Cup, and a not so great day on day two. McDonald was only third in the U23 race on Saturday behind Summerhill and Scherz, but considering that he’s only a first year Espoir, that’s mighty impressive for the young man. McDonald has the talent to race full time and Europe, and by all accounts almost did, and he’ll be the best U23 out there when Summerhill graduates. He’s already close to that level, and should only get faster.
4 (-). Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes Junior Development Team)
Mannion was consistently in the top 15 in New Jersey, but his consistency was not as impressive as McDonald’s first day, so he’s ranked one below, but just barely. Mannion is another first year Espoir, and the battles that he, McDonald and Keough will be doing for the next few years will be riveting. Mannion was 14th on day one and 15th on day two, which is all the more impressive when it’s only his first year racing that extra fifteen minutes.
5 (-). Luke Keough (Champion Systems)
Keough is a terror in New England, and he’s a podium threat every weekend in the Verge New England Cyclocross Championship Series. When the rest of the country’s top U23′s pop up, you can see how fast he is, but how he’s not quite the top rider in the Espoirs field. If he has a good race, Keough is a definite threat to win nationals, but it will take a really good day, and not quite as good a day from the rest of the top five.
Special thanks to Steven Hopengarten for his valuable input.