by Joe Bellante
FAIRFIELD, OHIO —They call it “riding the brown stripe.” It’s the dirty mark of a dialed course, the kind of course you usually only see on Belgian TV, and Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival had it on Sunday at Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio. With plenty of muddy patches after a record rainfall on Thursday, every racer of the day took home a little piece of the park. Katie Compton (Rabobank) and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) took home the trophy, prize money and (most importantly) the big UCI C1 points.
The course at Harbin deserved a C1 ranking. Compared to days one and two, there was more of everything. The speeds were higher, the course longer, the mud soupier and the obstacles more challenging. Placed on an almost blind soft right hand-er, the uphill barriers seemed to tower above riders’ knees on approach. With uphill sand and plenty of off-camber to test the best, brutal was the word du jour.
Skills — check. Power — check. One Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival win apiece — check. All things were equal between Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt) at the start of the weekend’s final race. While both skilled and powerful riders had notched C2 wins, the one thing Trebon lacked on day three with C1 points at stake was a teammate with fresh legs. Out of Jeremy Powers’ jersey pocket popped Zack McDonald (Rapha-Focus). With most of the crowd saying “That’s not JPow,” McDonald took the McHoleshot and continued his drive at the front well into lap two. Initially, he was solo off the front with a gap to Powers and Trebon, forcing Trebon to work to close the gap through the double sand pits and multiple mud bogs. Trebon, however, was patient, rode smart, took his lumps and brought McDonald back into the fold by the end of the first lap.
Johnson Goes Down, Schouten Moves Up
Bringing up the chase was Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), teammate Jamey Driscoll and the ever-present Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper). Then, disaster struck: Johnson went down in the slick and tight off-camber turns that wove in and out of the picnic shelter area. After going to the pit, Johnson returned to the course in 15th while Tristan Schouten (Cyclocrossracing.com-Blue), fresh from the Iceman MTB race in Michigan, took his place.
It was up to Jamey Driscoll to continue the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com fight. Early in lap three, however, as soon as he made contact with Trebon in the Powers-McDonald sandwich, Powers attacked though the sand pit. The Rapha-Focus leader continued to drive the nail all the way through the pits and back through the sand again. Driscoll was gone for good and the move sealed the deal for Powers.
Young Guns vs. Veteran Smarts
Trebon was now forced back into the driver’s seat with McDonald riding shotgun. There were still 30 minutes to go and Trebon has ridden his way back into races countless times. McDonald, a little younger, forced the issue early and attacked Trebon on lap four through the sand. Trebon didn’t flinch. He accelerated, closing the move down in a few hundred meters, then launched himself past McDonald through the uphill side of the pit in a classic counterattack. You could almost hear McDonald shake his head.
Trebon would close to within five seconds of Powers at the bell. While contact looked possible for a minute or two past the pits, Powers managed the gap well and increased his lead to 12 seconds at the line. In celebration of the Rapha-Focus first and third, McDonald popped a wheelie across the line. On the long uphill drag to the finish, the consistent Berden out-sprinted Driscoll for fourth.
With C1 UCI points at stake, the women’s race twitched with energy before the start. From the gun, the national champions of France and the US, Caroline Mani (Etupes Le Doubs Pays De Montbeliard) and Katie Compton (Rabobank) went straight to the front. Compton already had two of the three race victories in hand, and was clearly going for the hat trick. The two drag raced the first 500 meters and plunged into the sand neck and neck.Georgia Gould (LUNA) followed a bike length back in a group with Sue Butler (River City-Ridley), Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms) and regional fast girl Meghan Korol (Bob’s Red Mill).
Compton Lives For SandShowing the form that brought her second place on Friday, Miller first attempted the bridge from the chase. She made contact after a big muddy fast drop on the back side and held it until the group of three crossed the main park road. Compton waited until the sand to crack the whip and blew clear of Mani and Miller for good on lap two. Behind, Butler and Antonneau pursued gamely and eventually made contact with Miller and Mani, making the chase a group of four the second time past the announcer’s stage. Gould was off the back and in sixth, where she would finish for the third day in a row.
Miller, not content to stay in a pack, was the first to attack out of the group on the long swoopy grind up to the start/finish, closing to within 12 seconds of Compton. Mani marked the move and closed the gap, leaving Butler and Antonneau without an answer. At the same time, Coryn Rivera (Marian University) made impressive progress and closed in on 10th place.
At the bell, with enough of a gap, Compton took a clean bike while the rest opted to deal with the clinging mud rather than give up position. With Mani and Miller focused on sorting out the second place points, Antonneau gapped Butler. Meanwhile, secure in her spot, Gould played it safe, running the uphill sand. In a thrilling sprint, Miller took the second step ahead of Mani.
Gallery by Greg Sailor
Elite Men Results:
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Elite Women Results: