by Grant Berry
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – Cyclocross racing is big in Louisville. Big enough to garner the financial and in-person support of “Papa” John Schnatter and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, both of whom came to scope out the venue, cheer on racers, and in the Mayor’s case, hand out podium awards and handshakes or kisses on Day 2 of the Exergy USGP of Cyclocross.
With winds forecasted to gust up to 50 mph and a chance of rain, racers were on their toes trying to guess what to expect at the venue. For the Elite races taking part in the latter part of the day, the sun came out and the wind even died down a bit to once again make the riders focus on each other and the course, rather than the elements.
Todd Wells could be hanging out on the beach in Costa Rica, sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them and enjoying his victory in one of the world’s hardest races: La Ruta de los Conquistadores. Instead, he was in Louisville, Kentucky hoping to taste victory in one of his last races of what could easily be described as his best season yet. Time would tell if he could win at two very different events and venues in an amazingly short amount of time.
Announcer Dave Towle put it best; “There is no doubt in my mind that Todd could run a sub 2:10 marathon, then sprint a mile under four minutes the next day. He is amazing.”
When the whistle blew, Ben Berden (Stoemper-Ops Ale) once again busted off the line, grabbed the holeshot, and led the huge field out on to the course. Day 1 winner Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) quickly caught up with the Belgian and led over the flyover with Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis), Wells (Specialized Factory Racing), Tim Johnson (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) and a host of other top men close behind. Going into the steep ride (or run) up, Kabush passed Powers, and was determined to make the race his … or at the very least, make it hard. The day before, he had been caught off-guard a bit by the early accelerations, and wanted to make sure he was at the head of the bike race when it counted.
“I wanted to be aggressive, and give myself a chance today. There are a couple sections that were a lot more difficult today so I figured if I was in front and riding clean I could save myself a bit of energy,” he explained.
Going into the third lap, Kabush continued to force the issue and looked to make Powers feel the difficulty of the course.
“I was hurting trying to hang on his wheel … and was feeling yesterday for sure. It was touch-and-go a bit on those first few laps,” Powers explained.
With five laps to go, Wells, Johnson and Berden had made contact with the two. Wells immediately went to the front, hopped the barriers, and sprinted out of the saddle to see who would come with him. Powers instantly responded, as eventually the others made contact again as well. Less than half a lap later, Wells would hit the gas again, this time on the steepest section of the course. His efforts dropped Johnson and Berden, and put Powers and Kabush again on the offensive.
With three to go, Powers would enter that same section in front, and while he rode, Wells was forced to dismount and let a small gap open up. Powers crossed under the finish line banner with a three second lead. Wells did not look to Kabush to share the work; he simply put his head down and by the time they hit the barriers, they were once again together.
“There was no way I was going to give up that easy,” said Wells.
As the pair came around to the sandpit, Powers was in front and rode it smoothly, but Wells had an issue, and was again forced to dismount. Sensing Todd’s difficulty, Powers hunkered down over his bike and attempted to put daylight between himself and the 2010 National Champion. But by the time they entered the woods, the two were once again back together.
They would continuously trade places on the front, with Wells taking long pulls and Powers punching it whenever he could.
“Powers was attacking all over the course. I was patient and brought his attacks back slowly, but it hurt. I don’t have a ton of snap right now, but I knew if I rode my own pace I could bring him back,” Wells said.
Coming through the sand on the last lap, Powers led, but Todd rode the section smooth, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
As they headed towards the woods for the last time, Powers maintained his position on the front as Wells was running out of real estate to make a move. They both rode the final steep hill cleanly, and as they hit the pavement Powers had a two bike length lead over Wells and looked to have the race won. In an effort to keep him honest, Wells never stopped driving as Powers started to salute the victory a little early, nearly pulling a “Zabel” as he crossed under the finish banner with Wells less than a bike length behind him. Powers had doubled up on the weekend, making his win count at the Eva Bandman Cyclocross Venue: three wins out of four races.
Fans may be asking: where was Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt)? He smacked his knee hard preriding the course early in the day, and was doubtful of starting. He did toe the start line, though with a leg warmer on his injured leg. Watching him tackle the stairs and the barriers was tough; he was clearly limping and in grimacing in pain. He would finish tenth. Trebon plans to heal up for the series finals in his hometown of Bend, Oregon.
For his efforts, Powers would also pull on the series leader’s jersey going into the last round in Bend.
Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi – Shimano) won the U23 race, and reclaimed the U23 Series Leader’s jersey. Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant Berry Farms) put in a huge effort and was second on the day in the classification.
Elite Men’s Results
1 POWERS Jeremy Rapha/Focus 2 WELLS Todd Specialized 3 KABUSH Geoff Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain 4 BERDEN Ben Ops Ale - Stoemper 5 JONES Christopher Rapha/Focus 6 JOHNSON Timothy Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.c 7 DRISCOLL James Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.c 8 MATTER Brian Gear Grinder / Clif Bar 9 SCHOUTEN Tristan Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue B 10 TREBON Ryan LTS/Felt 11 KRUGHOFF Allen BOULDER CYCLE SPORT 12 LINDINE Justin BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage 13 HOKE Mitchell Team Clif Bar 14 ECKMANN Yannick Pearlizumi/Shimano 15 SUMMERHILL Daniel Chipotle Development Team 16 LIVERMON Travis Smart Stop-Mock Orange p/b Ridl 17 KAISER Cody California Giant Berry Farms/Sp 18 MCDONALD Zach Rapha/Focus 19 WICKS Barry Kona 20 SCHOOLER Aaron Team H&R BLOCK - Sri Importing 21 STAFFORD Jared Ride With Rendall 22 KNAPP Ryan Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross 23 WOODRUFF Travis Trek Bicycle Store - Boulder 24 MULLER Lukas Philadelphia Cyclocross School 25 TOWNSEND Jerome SmartStop / MockOrangeBikes pb 26 KAPPIUS Brady Team Clif Bar 27 ALDERS Bryan 28 REARDON Andrew Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team 29 DURRIN Jeremy J.A.M. Fund / NCC 30 WELLS Jake Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross 31 MYERSON Adam Team Mountain Khakis presented 32 BATTY Mark SpiderTech Powered By C10 33 MCCONNELL Mark Synergy Racing 34 MCNEELY Evan EMD Serono-Specialized Page 1 35 MILLER Daniel Team Seagal 36 MACKAY Chris RealCyclist.com 37 FISH Kevin KCCX/Fuji Presented by Challeng 38 LUZADDER Weston NUVO 39 DALLE ANGELINI Giancarlo Rio Blanco 40 WYATT Nathanael Carolina Fatz Cycling Center pb 41 PARMELEE Mark Cycletherapy 42 LARSEN Chris INDUSTRY NINE/Youngblood Bicycl 43 ALLEN Matthew behind bars/ little guy racing 44 FYFE Will Birmingham Bicycle Co 45 HEULE Christian cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.c 46 OMER Clayton Bobs Red Mill Cyclocross 47 FAWLEY Bryan ORBEA USA 48 COLE Brad Mercy Elite Cycling Team 49 JOHNSON Josh BikeReg.com 50 WELLS Troy Team CLIF BAR 51 SCHMALZ Joseph KCCX 52 BERGEY Gunnar C3 Athletes Serving Athletes 53 GEROW Daniel Wolverines/ACFSTORES.COM 54 STREET Bill Kuhl Midwest Regional MTB-CX Te 55 PREBLE Kolben Clif Bar Development Cyclocross 56 DAYTON Alex Smartstop / Mock Orange p/b Rid 57 KERSTING Mitchell Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross 58 NORDAHL Mitch MNJRC DNF ADAMSON Shaun Cycle-Smart DNS WINTERBERG Lukas Philadelphia Cyclocross School DNS KRUGHOFF Allen BOULDER CYCLE SPORT DNS LASLEY Jacob Team Soundpony DNS CHEWNING Michael Team Hungry! DNS HAUGH Spencer Behind Bars/LGR DNS MUEHL Eric Industry Nine/ Highland Brewery