Jeremy Powers on a Roll at Gloucester © Chris Milliman

From team:

After one of the most successful Septembers and Octobers the Cannondale prepared by team has seen in its history, US National Champion Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll headed to Switzerland for the first round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Aigle. With an eye towards the UCI World Championships both this year in Saint Wendel, Germany, and in 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky, ventured outside of the United States earlier than usual for a key early season test against the world’s best competition.

Jamey Driscoll described the course in Aigle as “a lot like an American race, only with a much faster field.” This sentiment was echoed by Jeremy Powers, who compared the route around the UCI headquarters as “similar to the courses in Madison and Vegas.” Driscoll described the course further, saying it “had a lot of technical turns, with short straightaways leading up to them. You couldn’t make up any time in the straights, so everyone was racing to be the first into the technical stuff.” All three members of the team echoed Driscoll’s sentiments, and it meant that was maybe better prepared than anyone for what waited in Aigle, having raced on American courses all season.

While it has been Jeremy Powers who has had the best starts for the majority of this year’s races, Tim Johnson got out of the starting gate in the best position on a mild day in Switzerland. “I don’t know what it is, but he’s a lot better than we are at navigating these crazy European starts,” said Driscoll of his team captain. When the three riders hit the race’s first turn, Powers and Driscoll had Johnson in their sights, and the three set about working their way up through the field.

Johnson set the early mark, moving his way up into the top half of the field. “Tim started out faster than we did, but Jeremy and I started to find our legs as the race went on, while Tim stayed at the same speed,” said Driscoll. Powers, too, noted that he improved as the race went on. “I had a whole lot left in the second half. I passed about four guys on the last lap. I may have even saved too much.”

Whether or not Powers saved too much didn’t hide the fact that he was able to move his way up to 20th position when the dust finally settled, and set the gold standard for Not far behind were the duo of Driscoll and Johnson, who finished 24th and 26th, respectively.

Both Powers and Johnson were content with the fact that their trips to Europe had met their expectations. “I had set my goal to break into the top twenty, and I did just that, so I can definitely say that this race was up to my expectations,” said Powers. Powers will now shift his focus to the overall championship of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, which resumes in Louisville, Kentucky, this coming weekend. “It was good to race against some of the best riders in the world and see where I stack up,” said Powers. “From here, I’m going to focus on the USGP overall and the lead up to Nationals.”

Jamey Driscoll Digs Deep to Stay in the Front © Chris Milliman

Johnson was slightly more reserved in his assessment of the racing in Aigle. “I need to work on refining my fitness. I’m not where I’d like to be and that’s for a variety of reasons. My [broken ankle] this year is the biggest factor.” Johnson did, however, find a lot of positives from the trip to Switzerland, saying, “We all made the trip from Boston to Aigle without getting sick, and that’s great news.” While the most important facet of the October trip was the racing, it was a pleasant surprise that this early-season dress rehearsal for the team’s final trip to Europe in January went off without any logistical hitches.

Johnson and Driscoll will now also turn their attention to the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, but Johnson also points out another important aspect to this weekend’s Derby City Cup. “The USGP is a huge goal for us. It’s the biggest series in the states. Louisville being the Worlds course in 2013 means that seeing it multiple years in advance could pay off nicely.” The entire staff and roster of Cannondale prepared by recognizes how important this season is in the lead up to the World Championships in 2013, and a successful trip to Aigle is an important first step in that process.

Will Cannondale prepared by be bringing back any knowledge to the United States following their trip to Switzerland? It just might, if you ask Tim Johnson. “It certainly helps in seeing what the state of cyclocross is at the World Cup level. It definitely won’t make trying to win against an in-form Ryan Trebon and Todd Wells any easier, but hey, it can’t hurt.”