For this week’s Throwback Thursday we’re going back to 2001 and back through our own archives.
Fifteen years ago, Jeremy Powers, who we interviewed recently regarding the coming 2016-17 season, was just getting his international cyclocross career going with the US national squad in Trabor, Czech Republic, at the Cyclocross Junior World Championships.
Take a look back at Powers and his countrymen in the post below, which also has a link to that year’s Elite Men’s race, one of the hardest fought Worlds battles ever.
Jeremy Powers has earned some impressive results so far this season, scoring a career-best sixth place at the CrossVegas World Cup, and a slew of domestic UCI C1 wins at Ellison Park, Gran Prix of Gloucester Days One and Two, the KMC Cyclo-cross Festival and the Trek CXC Cup.
This Throwback Thursday takes us back to when Powers, the American cyclocross juggernaut, was just getting his start—his first international race, the 2001 Cyclocross Junior World Championships, in Tabor, Czech Republic, the same location of the 2015 Worlds.
The race results have a few names that would go on to have long, successful cyclocross careers—Martin Bina took the win, setting the foundation for his exceptional snowy-weather handling, followed by Radomir Simunek. Geert Wellens, younger brother of longtime Telenet-Fidea racer Bart Wellens, was well within the top ten, too.
In addition to Jeremy Powers, two Aarons represented the U.S. in Aaron Bradford and Aaron Menenberg. Bradford, who finished in 40th place in Tabor, is still shredding to this day, taking a singlespeed national championship, ripping up the enduro scene and racing cyclocross locally in Washington state.
Unlike Powers and Bradford, 53rd place finisher Menenberg is a name that many may not recognize or remember. We at Cyclocross Magazine were curious as to what he was up to currently, and we caught up with the former Rad Racing junior to ask about his race at Tabor, and if he still gets on the ‘cross bike.
“Regarding Tabor, that was perhaps the worst race of my life. I came down with a rough case of food poisoning a few days before the race and was a hollowed-out shell of myself,” Menenberg told Cyclocross Magazine. “I had finished, I think, 19th the week before at the World Cup or Super Prestige race in Switzerland so I had hopes in competing for a top-20 finish in Tabor. As for the race itself, I spent the whole time going backwards. Not my favorite race day, unfortunately. Still, riding for the national team was a huge honor and one that I’m often reminded of by a team picture I have in my living room.”
Menenberg continued, “…being on the team with Dale Knapp and Ann Grande, two other Seattleites who were mentors of mine back then, was special. My parents were there, and I know my riding in the country’s colors made them especially proud. Hard not to appreciate that.”
When asked about the remainder of his cyclocross career, Menenberg paints a picture of the harsh realities of racing at a high caliber, even as a top junior: “That was the first of two European stints. I was in line to go to Europe the following season with the National Team but got injured mid-way through the season and didn’t end up making the trip or the team. I went back again in 2003-2004 and did about a dozen races but that was my last hurrah. I stopped racing after that season and then stopped riding pretty much altogether soon thereafter. The lifestyle just wasn’t for me…”
When asked about Powers’ recent dominance, Menenberg recognizes Powers’ hyper-focus and mental fortitude, even at a young age, recalling, “As for Jeremy, I’m both happy and not surprised that he’s dominating the domestic scene. He was a guy I always battled with when I was racing and from what I remember it was his mental toughness that was his greatest strength. He was always a mind-over-matter kind of rider, someone who doesn’t believe in excuses and had a great sense of humor about things. I always respected him for that…”
Check out the Elite Men’s race from Tabor to see one of the most close-fought battles in history, with Erwin Vervecken coming out on top in a heart-stopping finale.