LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – It was a dry, hot day in Louisville, surprising racers who’d come from Northern states, driving through blizzards and Nor’easters to make it to the Derby City Cup USGP, taking place on the Worlds 2013 course. Racers were not disappointed by the perfect (albeit hot) weather, the long sandpit, flyover and three separate run-ups, as well as a set of barriers and some steep elevation changes.
To write about the women’s race at the USGP seems almost superfluous, at least in the front. From the very start, Katie Compton seized control of the holeshot and the race, avoiding the pitfall that had plagued the races earlier in the day: a small “tabletop” that saw lesser fields catching air and endo-ing over bars, causing one racer to make a trip to the emergency room and even catching National Champion Logan Owen unawares.
But the women’s field navigated the obstacle smoothly, with Katerina Nash (Luna) hot on Compton’s heels. Behind them, British National Champion Helen Wyman (Kona) hung on in hot pursuit. Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) suffered an early race mechanical, and was forced to battle her way back, finding herself behind the chase group that included Gabby Day and Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), Georgia Gould (Luna) and Crystal Anthony (Cyclocrossworld).
The six lap race on the technical and run-heavy course left riders exhausted and making mistakes as the race went on, with riders crashing into nasty obstacles and showing the effects of the unexpected heat. Racers were spread over the course, working in small groups or soloing along as best they could, with encouragement from a raucous crowd sustaining them.
By the halfway point, Compton had opened a sizable gap on Nash, with 30 seconds between the two. Behind them, Gould had regained a top placing and was flying solo in third spot. Behind her, Krasniak, Wyman, Pepper Harlton, and Antonneau struggled to catch the two Luna women. Gould had a rocky start, and was halfway back in the field during early bits of Lap 1, but as she’s shown time and time again, she’s more than capable of taking control later in the race.
The next lap, the top three remained, but Wyman and Krasniak separated themselves from Antonneau and Canadian Pepper Harlow by several seconds. The top seven had a sizable gap on the chase group of Anthony, Stetson-Lee and two of the Kelly Benefits-Optum racers. Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement) was at the tail end of the chase group, clearly affected by the heat.
It was no surprise as Compton sailed in for the finish, unopposed. She was followed by teammates Nash and Gould, respectively. Wyman left Krasniak to take fourth, and Antonneau dropped Harlton to take fifth.
The men took to the course with one of the biggest UCI fields assembled in the US. Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) took the holeshot, and until the very tail end of the field, the group was together and all made it safely over the first course feature. The sand further strung out the field, and McDonald was eclipsed by teammate and National Champion Jeremy Powers, along with his main adversary in the USGP series, Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld). In addition, Danny Summerhill (United Healthcare) and Ben Berden (Raleigh Clement) controlled the race. Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant) thrilled the crowd by being the only racer to ride the limestone steps halfway through the course, though the move didn’t net him any ground against the thundering footsteps from Powers and the rest of the lead group.
Unlike the women’s race, the course quickly became dusty, and the setting sun made visibility on the course difficult as racers wound their way around.
Berden took the lead halfway through the race, followed by Tim Johnson (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld), who had a rocky start but fought his way forward in the first few laps, and Craig. Trebon, Powers, Summerhill, McDonald and Justin Lindine (Redline) were hot on their heels, not allowing Berden to get too much of an advantage off of the front of the field.
With five to go, Powers bridged the gap to Berden, and Trebon and Johson had traded places, leaving Berden, Powers and Trebon with a slight gap on Johnson, Summerhill and Craig, with Lindine close behind.
Trebon and Powers developed a gap on Berden, with fourth through sixth chasing hard, and Lindine only seconds behind the group. U23 rider Yannick Eckmann and McDonald were nearly 10 seconds behind.
A lap later saw an attack by Powers on Trebon, and Berden had shifted back to the chase group of Craig, Summerhill and Johnson, with Lindine close behind and closing the gap. As the announcer said, we’re watching yet another “Powers-Trebon” battle unfolding in the USGP.
With three to go, the two titans of US cycling were still together and far from the chase group, and the chase group had nearly a 20 second gap on the rest of the field. Eckmann dropped McDonald, who chased the second chase group solo.
While Powers was able to ride some of the more technical sections, Trebon regained ground on the power sections and the two stayed together as the race began to wind down. Coming through the sandpit with less than two laps to go, the two leaders floated over the sand and into the flyover. The chase group was 37 seconds behind, and Lindine was the only racer close to the main group, seconds behind. 27 and 9 followed 10 seconds back, trying to catch the chase group, or barring that, compete for UCI points, which go 15 men deep.
Georgia Gould delighted the crowd by showing that she not only wants to be heckled, she can dish it up along with the best of them, yelling to Jamey Driscoll, “Jamey, do NOT let that guy with the beard catch you.”
Seconds later, as Dan Timmerman and his beard came by, she shouted, “Jamey’s right up there, use the beard!”
As the leaders closed in on the last lap of the race and hit the pavement, Powers attacked, though Trebon stayed hot on his heels. Powers opened up a gap of a few seconds on Trebon, with the chase group nowhere in sight. When the chase group did hit the first sandpit, some separation was obvious, with Berden taking a slight lead. l and Craig were close behind, followed by Johnson, and Lindine had dropped back to ten seconds behind the group.
Powers grew the gap in a blazing fast lap lap and soloed in for another USGP victory, while Trebon rolled in unopposed for second. Behind them, the fight for third began with a sprint as the racers hit the tarmac, and Craig and Summerhill duked it out until nearly at the line, when Summerhill narrowly crossed the line ahead of Craig.
In the U23 race, McDonald rallied and bested Eckmann by seconds, though Eckmann retained his hold on the overall series lead.
It’s not surprising that Logan Owen took the win in the 17-18 race, riding for Redline Bicycles. The seven-time National Champion recently scored a bronze medal at Plzen in the World Cup race, and is at the top of his game. However, a crash just seconds into the race sent Owen back to mid-pack, despite snagging the holeshot. When they hit the sand in the first section of the course, he was relegated to somewhere mid-pack, however, by the time they emerged from the sand and hit the flyover, he had already regained a top-six placing and was racing hard to catch the leaders. He later told us that he just told himself to keep it smooth and pick off racers (similar to his race in Plzen), and two laps later, he took control of the race ahead of Curtis White. The two battled for two laps, but Owen put down pressure for a half lap and left the entire field behind, taking the win by over a minute.