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by Jacob Sisson and Kent Getchell
It was deja vu all over again, as Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) and Katie Compton (Planet Bike) each came away with their third victories of the weekend at the Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival, the Cincinnati UCI3 Harbin Park presented by Biowheels and United Dairy Farmers and the second weekend of the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series.
Powers took his win in a sprint finish over Ryan Trebon (Kona) who was followed a short time later by his teammate, Barry Wicks.
Compton’s victory came over a chasing group of three, of which the sprint was won by Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) over Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com) and Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten).
The richest race of the weekend paid full C1 prize money, even though it was only categorized as a C2 race.
Meanwhile, the women were paid according to the Gould formula, based on a C1 purse, making it one of the richest days of women’s cyclocross this year. Combined with the prize money from the previous two days in Cincinnati and its suburbs, the women vied for a total weekend purse of $10,000.
Despite not grabbing the holeshot, Katie Compton had very little to complain about. Once again, once she made it to the front of the race, it was an open and shut case. Sue Butler (Monavie Cannondale) got the hole-shot, while Compton, who did not pre-ride the course, was content to follow for a while before riding off to a dominating win.
It was an uneventful ride for the U.S. Champion – other than haggling with hecklers about the acceptability of certain beers when they offered her a can of Pilsner. When a bottle of microbrew was produced the following lap, she obligingly scrubbed the brakes, took the hand-up and chugged a good portion before dismounting for the barriers. “At first I wasn’t going to, since this is a UCI race and we’re not supposed to take feeds,” she recounted with a smile afterward. “But I had yelled back at them ‘how about a microbrew?’ the lap before. So when they actually had one, I felt kind of obligated.” Still, the hand-up paled in comparison to the previous day, when the same crew was (successfully) offering the pro men hand-ups not of beverages, but of lawn darts.
Behind Compton, a group of our containing Van Gilder, Butler, Howe and Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) came together to try to bring her back. The three made very little progress, with much of the chasing left to Howe and Butler, as Van Gilder was content to wait for a sprint. The group managed to drop Winfield, and was almost two when Sue Butler went over her handlebars, endoing on an innocuous flower bed obstacle late in the race. Butler managed to claw her way back on, but the race for second was never really up for questioning.
The finish stretch at Harbin is a 200 meter straight, on grass, up a hill and into the wind; and it follows one of the most technical sets of turns on the track. As announcer Mayhew put it with satirical hyperbole from first-hand experience, “you see the finish in front of you, but you still have two minutes to go.” When asked if it was the closest thing to a road sprint in cyclocross, Laura van Gilder (who knows a thing or two about road sprints) said, “Yes, it sure is. I wasn’t going to put in an effort, only to get attacked.” With Van Gilder’s legendary sprint, the onus was one Howe and Butler.
But Howe was gapped with only a quarter lap remaining, leaving Butler in the unenviable position of leading out Van Gilder in the sprint. Butler kept it close, but couldn’t fend off Van Gilder’s power. Van Gilder easily outsprinted Butler, with Howe settling for fourth and Winfield fifth. The Planet Bike trio of Kristin Wentworth, Kaitlin Antonneau and Linda Sone finished up sixth through eighth, followed by Kimberly Flynn and Ashley James.
“What I really like about coming here (Cincinnati) is that you have three completely different courses in three days and the prizes are really good,” said Katie Compton. “I don’t know why more Elite Women don’t come.”
Powers Bottoms Out to Narrow Win
Jeremy Powers was again the strongest man on the day, but not without a challenege from Ryan Trebon. Rumors were swirling before the start of the race whether Trebon would even make it to the line, having suffered a nasty crash on Friday, and pulling out of Saturday’s race.
Trebon was quick to put those rumors to bed, however, as he and Powers pulled away from the field, only being marked by Troy Wells (Clif Bar). Wells eventually faded, as Barry Wicks and Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) moved up from behind.
After Wells dropped back, it was Trebon and Powers off to the races, and the two would trade leads going into the final lap. As they came into the final lap, Powers knew what he had to do, “I remember the finish from last year and there was a tight 180 before the straight. I knew it was absolutely critical to be leading through there, so I railed it as hard as I could. I could feel the front tire flexing over, so I was basically on the rim, and so was Ryan.”
Trebon’s account confirms Power’s strategy, “I bobbled a little in that turn around the tree and Jeremy didn’t. He got a gap that that was it.” Behind them, Wicks had disposed of Wells and Parbo to finish third. In the bunch sprint for the final points positions, Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com), co-promoters of next week’s Zipp OVCX Tour race in Bloomington Indiana, touched wheels with Greg Wittwer (Alan North America). Knapp crashed hard just meters from the finish line, breaking his collarbone. Determined to put on a final effort, Knapp rose after a few minutes and crossed the line with his bike to finish eleventh, the same place he was in when he crashed. It was, unfortunately, a bad day for collarbones, as at least three were broken in crashes on completely different parts of the course.
Wicks, who has been showing some fine form as of late, caught the fading Wells with two laps to go, but Wells had enough in the tank to hold off the Danish National Champion, Parbo, finishing up his day in fourth. Behind Parbo, Brian Matter (Team Gear Grinder) and Mark LaLonde (Planet Bike) had been waging a back and forth battle all day, and it took a sprint finish to award Matter sixth and LaLonde seventh.
The group of Greg Wittwer (ALAN North America Cycling Team), Ryan Knapp (Bikereg.com), Tom Burke (Lathrop Industries/Giant) and Andrew Wulfkuhle (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) had also been fighting it out for valuable UCI points, and their battle also would come down to a sprint finish. Knapp got the short end of the stick, crashing hard during the sprint, and having to limp across the line for 11th. He would later be diagnosed with a possible broken collar bone. In the sprint, Wulfkuhle had the best sprint and took home 8th, ahead of Wittwer and Burke.
The course at Harbin Park was changed significantly from last year, and it was a favorite of many racers. “It’s such a well-balanced course,” said announcer and racer Chris Mayhew following his race. “There are power sections where you can attack and there are tough, technical sections where you can attack.” Ryan Trebon said he loved the course for its hills and because, “It feels like you’re going somewhere.”
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Elite Men Brief Results
1. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld)
2. Ryan Trebon (Kona)
3. Barry Wicks (Kona)
4. Troy Wells (Clif Bar)
5. Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles)
6. Brian Matter (Team Gear Grinder)
7. Mark LaLonde (Planet Bike)
8. Andrew Wulfkuhle (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
9. Tom Burke (Lathorp Industries/Giant)
10. Greg Wittwer (ALAN North America Cycling Team)
Elite Women Brief Results
1. Katie Compton (Planet Bike)
2. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
3. Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com)
4. Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten)
5. Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
6. Kristin Wentworth (Planet Bike)
7. Kaitlin Antonneau (Planet Bike)
8. Linda Sone (Planet Bike)
9. Kimberly Flynn (Vantaggio/Specialized)
10. Ashley James (Kenda)