ROCHESTER, New York—There were countless storylines leading up to the U.S. UCI Cyclocross season opener in Rochester, New York, but perhaps the biggest one was whether we’d see a Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Jeremy Powers (Aspire) rivalry this season.

With Hyde stealing Powers’ National Championship jersey last winter in Hartford, and Powers coming off a year riddled by injury, American fans were anxious to see if we were in for a year of parity or dominance this season.

Pro Parity

For half the race, it looked like large-scale parity could be the theme of the season, with 8 Americans and 2 Europeans setting off for a 10-man group ride through the dusty, dry Genesee Valley Park.

Last year’s rising stars of Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz) and Kerry Werner (Kona) looked determined to continue their progression to the top of the sport, with Ortenblad securing the holeshot and controlling the front of the first lap, while Belgian Rob Peeters (Pauwels) and French Mathieu Boulo, who was 21st at Worlds, joined the American train in hopes of arriving at a big UCI C1 points payout.

Hyde, resplendent in his PanAmerican Champion’s jersey, looked anxious but not taxed. “I really wanted to feel it out and see what the dynamic was,” Hyde explained. “I wanted to whittle down that group about half way down the lap count. It’s a long pedal-y course so staying out there by myself wasn’t an option.”

With his best poker face on display, feel it out he did, and after following wheels early, soon Hyde took to the the front, stringing out the group and drawing out Peeters and Powers for a suspenseful Saturday matinee. Were fans in for a three-way battle until the end?

Briefly, Ortenblad, Boulo and new Aspire signee Spencer Petrov regained contact, while Powers suffered mechanical issues which stalled any Aspire one-two attacks. Still, Petrov was anxious to prove the value of his offseason signing, and lined up next to his team captain, just as Hyde and Peeters surged. Acting as a loyal lieutenant, the 19-year-old racer from Ohio pulled Powers around, as the two hoped for any pause in the Hyde and Peeters push.

Peeters and Powers Go All-In

Peeters instead made a push of his own, leading through the technical climbs, and mashing a huge gear to go clear. Did Peeters study the winning hand in the women’s race?  His effort was in the exact same spot Ellen Noble opened up her gap after a Maghalie Rochette bobble with just over one lap to go.

The Belgian wasn’t done with his surprises. After running the barriers every lap, he hopped them and accelerated away, hoping his newfound aerial skills would be his ace in the hole.

Hyde didn’t panic, knowing there were still more hands to play. He steadily climbed back to Peeters, and the pace slowed. With one to go, it happened. Hyde looked around. Peeters eased up. And suddenly there were four players at the table, with Hyde and Peeters outnumbered by an Aspire duo looking to go two-for-two after Noble’s win.

“I gambled a little bit, and let the two [Aspire racers] come back,” Peeters admitted at the end. Suddenly the Vegas odds of a Belgian win took a tumble, even as Petrov fell off after completing his just-in-time delivery.

The Last Hand

On the final lap, Hyde, Peeters and Powers riders played it safe, running the tricky uphill off-camber corner, and settling in for a final, critical half lap. Peeters surged once more, but Hyde was ready, holding onto the visiting Belgian and distancing Powers. A two-man sprint looked like a certainty.

Powers wasn’t done. Adding a turbo to his big diesel engine and throwing down a trick card he learned from his pro raoad racing days, he unleashed his sprint just after making contact, accelerating past the leading duo with just a third of a lap left. Could he repeat last year’s sprint win and reshuffle the pre-race rankings?

Hyde was determined to be at the front at the top of the stairs and into the last corner. He squeezed by Powers at the stairs, and led into the final turn.

Peeters would unleash an impressive sprint from the back but would live to regret his gamble of letting Powers reconnect and get in the way. It was too little too late. Peeters passed Powers before the line but fell short of catching Hyde. “That was [the] best I could, Stephen was better today,” said the Belgian.

Hyde was finally on top in Rochester. “I’m really really excited, this is my fifth race on this course and my first win, so I’m pretty excited,” said Hyde. “It was a warm, pedal-y course, so you really have to play your cards right.”

With a PanAmerican championship jersey on display and a National Championship jersey hiding underneath, Hyde had the plenty of jersey pockets to hold his stacked deck.

As the lap cards turned over, Hyde flipped over his hand, one by one.

Jack of all trades.

Climbing ace.

A lot of heart.

With one final Peeters chase, a surge past Powers and an impressive sprint victory, Hyde had one card left.

Crossing the line with two open hands pointing to the sky, he put on a display that left nobody in doubt what his final card showed.

Hyde was Saturday’s King of Rochester.

2017 Rochester Cyclocross Day 1 podium: Stephen Hyde, Rob Peeters and Jeremy Powers

2017 Rochester Cyclocross Day 1 podium: Stephen Hyde, Rob Peeters and Jeremy Powers

Petrov is the King of the U23s

In our preview of the Rochester race, one of the things we said we would be watching is the U23 talent present in New York. Although he had a rough go in the big battle at Nationals in Hartford, Spencer Petrov showed he is a rider to be reckoned with on Saturday. Petrov, racing in his new vintage Rapha kit for Aspire Racing, battled with his teammate Jeremy Powers well into the race and took the top U23 spot. Petrov finished 0:31 behind the lead trio and nearly 2 minutes ahead of Lance Haidet, the next closest U23 rider. Gage Hecht finished 18th and Brannan Fix 19th.

“Today is the first UCI ‘cross race in Rochester, also my birthday, so no matter what I was going to have a good day,” said Petrov. “When the race started, I found myself in a decent spot. Early on there were gaps here and there, and it was really fast. I was able to make good selections when I had to go. With three to go, a gap opened up, Steven and Rob, and then it was Jeremy and me. We were all at the same level of speed. But I felt like the legs were in a good place for where we are at the start of the season, so I am happy with that. And there is only‘up from here and that’s the goal. I had fun today. I’m excited for the first race of the season.”

Stay tuned for photos and an expanded report.

2017 Rochester Cyclocross Day 1 UCI C1 Elite Men's Results

11HYDEStephenCannondale P/B Cyclocrossworld.1:02:05.0-Elite Men
26PEETERSRobPauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservic1:02:05.0s.t.Elite Men
35POWERSJeremyAspire Racing1:02:05.0s.t.Elite Men
412PETROVSpencerAspire Racing1:02:36.00:31Elite Men
58BOULO MatthieuTeam Pays de Dinan1:02:48.00:43Elite Men
62ORTENBLADTobinSanta Cruz / Donkey Label Racing1:02:54.00:49Elite Men
74WERNER JR.KerryKona Factory CX Team1:03:08.01:02Elite Men
87DRISCOLLJamesDonnelly Sports1:03:16.01:11Elite Men
911KISSEBERTHJackJAM / NCC1:03:28.01:23Elite Men
103WHITECurtisCannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.1:04:07.02:02Elite Men
1115WELLSTroyTeam CLIF BAR1:04:22.02:17Elite Men
1214HAIDETLanceDonnelly Sports1:04:27.02:22Elite Men
139LIVERMONTravisMaxxis/Shimano1:04:31.02:26Elite Men
1410DURRINJeremyNeon Velo Cycling Team1:04:34.02:28Elite Men
1520RYANAlexMock Orange Bikes1:04:56.02:51Elite Men
1621SMITHScottJAM / NCC1:05:23.03:18Elite Men
1717ST. JOHNDerrickVan Dessel p/b Hyperthreads1:05:50.03:45Elite Men
1813HECHTGageAlpha Bicycle Co. Groove Subar1:06:09.04:04Elite Men
1916FIXBrannanAlpha Bicycle Company/Groove Su1:06:47.04:41Elite Men
2018O'DONNELLTrevorLakeside Storage Cyclocross1:07:02.04:57Elite Men
2135BOUCHARD-HALLKevinWrenegade Sports/Farm to Fork F1:07:27.05:22Elite Men
2222SNYDERJordanEast Ridge Outfitters/@BicycleR1:07:44.05:39Elite Men
2427OWENSMichaelHands-On Cycling p/b Guerciotti1:08:45.06:40Elite Men
2541DAIGLEMarc-andrãGarneau Easton Cycling1:08:46.0s.t.Elite Men
2629WULFKUHLEAndrew717cycling p/b RSI Panels1:08:54.06:49Elite Men
2725BAKKEROsmondThe Bandits1:09:12.07:07Elite Men
2830BORDENAndrewX-Men1:09:19.07:14Elite Men
2924MCCORMACKBrendanApex/NBX/Hyperthreads1:09:35.07:29Elite Men
3036GRIFFOGreggPark Ave Bike p/b Borah Teamwea1:10:18.08:13Elite Men
3137FITZGIBBONSDanGREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipca@1LapElite Men
3231CLEMENTSMattRotor Bike Components@1LapElite Men
3334WENCZELKaleJAM / NCC@1LapElite Men
3426MANCINIPeterCrank Studio@1LapElite Men
3539RICCIChristianLakeside Storage Cyclocross@1LapElite Men
3633WILLARDTedAbsolute Value CX@2LapElite Men
3740PERRYSpencerFerretti Cycles@2LapElite Men
3823TOUGASEdouard@2LapElite Men
DNF32JEANSylvainMad AlchemyElite Men
DNF28TYERSBryanLakeside Storage CyclocrossElite Men
DNF38DINIZNicholasNCCH Elite p/b MGCCElite Men