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by Pat Malach
BEND, OREGON – Former longtime teammates Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson put on a thrilling one-on-one smackdown Saturday during Day 1 of the USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup, with Powers eventually taking a two-up sprint ahead of Johnson but just barely hanging on, after celebrating a tick too soon.
Powers (Rapha-Focus), the series leader, and Danny Summerhill (Chipotle Development Team) jumped out to an early lead on a course that was fast and dusty after several weeks of unseasonably bone-dry weather. Summerhill led Powers through the start-finish after one lap, while the chase behind included Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper), Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Canadian national champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano).
Jones eventually powered up to the two leaders, bringing Johnson, Berden, Kabush and Sheppard along with him. Jones then went to the front and forged a small advantage, with Johnson attacking into second and Powers and Berden chasing behind.
A crash in a grass corner by Jones just after the flyover and an attack from Johnson, followed closely by Powers, pushed the duo into the lead alone while Summerhill, Sheppard and Kabush were slowed behind Jones’s mistake.
On the front, Johnson’s and Powers’ efforts to gain any advantage over one another served only to distance the duo from the rest of the field as they built a large gap over a chasing group that had grown to include Summerhill, Kabush, Sheppard, Jones, Berden, Jamey Driscoll(Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar) and Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus).
The big duel that cyclocross fans had been waiting for since Powers left his old team and signed with Rapha had finally materialized as the he and Johnson were locked in a battle in which neither seemed able to deliver a knockout blow. The pair took the bell neck-and-neck, with Johnson getting an advantage as they headed into the Dusty “Old Mill” side of the course, but Powers surged into the lead with about half a lap to go.
Johnson sat on Powers’ wheel and tried to squeeze past on the stairs just before the finish line, but Powers maintained his lead up the stairs, through a short off-camber grass section and then the final 180-degree right-hand turn.
Johnson had the inside line through the corner and looked like he might be able to squeeze past his former teammate, but Powers closed down the space and kicked hard into his finishing sprint. Powers’ effort opened a small gap on Johnson, and, just like he did in the Louisville USGP, Powers began to throw up his trademark one-armed salute. But Johnson wasn’t quite dead yet, and the wily veteran made another surge that caused Powers to drop back onto the bars and give one last effort for the line, crossing just ahead of Johnson, who appeared to pound his bars in frustration.
After the race Johnson said he could have kept moving up on the inside, but Powers was in that space and if he had tried to take the space, “it would have been ugly.”
“Sprints are funny because there are gray areas and there are definitely no gos,” Johnson said. “When you’re in the front, you have a lot more ability to make those decisions. But he was in front of me and I was coming up on his inside, and it was going to be a straight-up sprint so I wasn’t going to do that.”
Summerhill charged across the line next for third after having opened a gap on Driscoll, Berden, Kabush and Sheppard. Jones and McDonald came in next for eighth and ninth after mounting a furious chase to regain the second group on the course, netting the U23 win and overall series lead for McDonald.
Powers said that at points during the race he didn’t think he’d have enough for the win, but he hung on long enough to make it happen.
“Tim was riding the technical sections better than I was,” he said. “He was on his game today. It’s the best he’s ridden all year. At one point I thought it was his race to lose because I was in the box most of the day. But at the end I felt like I really wanted to finish the series off strong. I just put in a hard last lap and got it in the sprint. That was the best I could do.”
Powers said the win was particularly gratifying after two years of disappointment at Nationals in Bend, but he said his early celebration was one regret from the day.
“I’m definitely going to hear about it,” he said. “I’m going to give myself crap for sitting up. It’s disrespectful. I don’t know what’s wrong with my brain to think that I could do that again. Whatever. We all make mistakes, and I just gotta deal with it. I’m not bummed to win but I am bummed that I did that. It is what it is.”
Other Race Notes: Multi-time junior National Champion Logan Owen took the win in the men’s 17-18 race, finishing ahead of Andrew Dillman, Tobin Ortenblad, Zane Godby and Richard Gorry. Local rider Ben Thompson won the Masters 35+ race ahead of JT Fountain, Richard Feldman, Shannon Skerritt and Michael Gallagher.
Photo gallery — Pat Malach/Oregon.CyclingAction.com
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USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup, Day 1
|1||Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha/Focus|
|2||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com|
|3||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Chipotle Development Team|
|4||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com|
|5||Ben Berden (Bel) Ops Ale - Stoemper|
|6||Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain|
|7||Chris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Shimano|
|8||Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha/Focus|
|9||Zach Mcdonald (USA) Rapha/Focus|
|10||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar|
|11||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Tokyo Joe'S|
|12||Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com|
|13||Sean Babcock (USA) Kona|
|14||Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|15||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder / Clif Bar|
|16||Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Mtb|
|17||Yannick Eckmann (Ger) Pearlizumi/Shimano|
|18||Tristan Schouten (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue Bicycles|
|19||Kevin Noiles (Can) Sportique|
|20||Braden Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar|
|21||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona|
|22||Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant Cycling|
|23||Russell Stevenson (USA) Raleigh|
|24||Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona/Team S&M|
|25||Steve Fisher (USA) Revel Consulting / Rad Racing Nw|
|26||Donald Reeb (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue|
|27||Jake Wells (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team|
|28||Carl Decker (USA) Giant|
|29||Mark Mcconnell (Can) Synergy Racing|
|30||Scott Tietzel (USA) Plains To Peaks Racing|
|31||Damian Schmitt (USA) Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside Sports|
|32 (-3 laps)||Chris Mackay (USA) Realcyclist.Com|
|33||Gian Dalle Angelini (USA) Rio Blanco|
|34 (-4 laps)||Josh Whitney (USA) Rocky Mounts~Izze|
|35||Aaron Bradford (USA) Bay101/Hrs/Rocklobster|
|36||Kolben Preble (USA) Clif Bar Development Cross Team|
|37||John-Christian Flack (USA) Olympia Orthopaedic Associates|
|38||Paul Lacava (USA) Giant Cycling Club/ Giant Cycling Team|
|39||Jason Holbrook (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|40||Nathan Bannerman (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue Competitive Cycles|
|41||Brent Gorman (USA) Speedway Cycles|
|42||Chris Jackson (USA) Rambuski Law|
|43||Matthew Fox (USA) Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside|
|44 (-5 laps)||John Behrens (USA) Bailey Bikes|
|45||John Bailey (USA) Bailey Bikes|
|46||Matt Lyons (USA) University Of Denver|
|47||John Mundelius (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized|
|48 (-6 laps)||Cole Sprague (USA) Reed College|
|49||Evan Renwick (USA) Cycle U-Pop Cap|
|50||Henry Kramer (USA) Cal Giant / Specialized|
|51 (-9 laps)||James Gentes (USA)|
|DNF||Jerome Townsend (USA) Smartstop / Mockorangebikes/Ridley|
|DNF||Aaron Tuckerman (NZl) Corsa Concepts Cyclocross Team|
|DNF||Drew Mackenzie (Can) Condo Group/Shimano/Marin|
|DNF||Justin Lindine (USA) Bikereg.Com / Joe'S Garage|