ASHEVILLE, N.C.—Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) made it three U.S. Cyclocross Elite Men's National Championship titles in a row, taking the lead at the Biltmore Estate with two laps to go and never looking back.
In past years, the now 32-year-old Powers battled older, more experienced racers to win the title. Only this year, Powers had to contend with a new generation of cyclocross racers motivated to steal his crown. Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), is just three years younger but a new and still-rising star, and Logan Owen (Cal Giant-Specialized), the 2015 U23 National Champion, is just 20-years-old and opted to race the Elite race for the first time.
As the Elite Men were called up to the start line, the clouds rolled in and snow flurries started to fall. And after Dan Timmerman (Stan's No Tubes Elite CX) took the group around the first turn it was game on for the expected protagonists.
Owen was on the front of the group looking over his shoulder to see where the field was as he came across the sidewalk leading to the left hand U-turn before the off-camber stretch that had seen riders sliding on their hips all day. Owen cleared the precarious pass without incident and held a slim two second lead over Powers, Hyde and the rest of the Elite field that could hold the infernal pace.
As the riders approached Ingles Heckle Hill the large crowd got a fair assessment of whether it was faster to run or ride the steep pitch, with Powers opting to run and Hyde pedaling to the top. Asked about it after the race, Powers said that the hill was a non-factor. "I actually never rode it, not even in warm up... It's a real leg zappers to be doing those zero cadence efforts." In hindsight Owen may have seen the decision to try to ride as a gamble that didn't pay off. "I was riding it in practice no problem, but conditions changed, it got more mucked up," he said when asked if riding it cost him more time.
Back on course and over Heckle Hill, and Powers led Owen and Hyde through the first lap with Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Jonathan Page (Fuji/Page), Timmerman and a small group of others chasing.
On the start of the second lap Owen launched a huge attack on the pavement, putting his road fitness to good use in a bid to blow the race apart. Hyde crashed for the first of two times during the race, right as Powers was making the catch and pass of Owen, but quickly recovered.
Through two laps it was mostly status quo with Powers putting in the first sub eight minute lap of the day with Hyde and Owen on his wheel.
The trio continued on this way, briefly trading leads and testing both their own legs and those of their competitors. As Owen had previously attacked on the finishing pavement, Powers made a similar attempt, each one not opening up a significant advantage on their rivals. Hyde, meanwhile, was bidding his time or simply unable to make a move of his own at this point.
At the end of lap four, Hyde did roll to the front leading onto the pavement, but Powers was back in front as they hit the grass again. Halfway through lap five and Owen was dropped for good with the lead pair left to fight for the win. It was then that Hyde had his second crash, this one on Cemetery Hill. Powers took advantage taking the lead and held a slim five second gap going into lap six.
Hyde bobbled leading into the Bike Barn, and that was all Powers needed as Owen—who appeared to be fading—was still chasing and had third locked up. While Hyde and Owen seemed close as they rounded the off camber heading to Heckle Hill, the terrain, and maybe even the excitement of the crowd, made it seem closer than perhaps it really was.
Hyde held on for second in a race that could have potentially been his without a few small errors. When asked about his race, Hyde said, "It was Jeremy's race to lose. He decided not to lose it... I had a couple of bobbles and that was it for my race. I was happy with second, but I wanted to win today."
Owen took an impressive third. He was a top pick to win for many and took the race right to Powers and Hyde, just as he did back at Jingle Cross. When asked about Owen, Powers said he was nervous when Owen's first move was made. "[Owen] is a rider of the future. He's super talented. And he wants to win... It's funny because I'm the old guy now. He's 10 years younger than both [Hyde] and me. You have to give him credit."
Owen himself was pragmatic and gracious in his first Elite Championship. "[A] podium is a win to me. I knew going into it it’d be really hard to win with my preparation. I got sick two times in a row. I knew my preparation wasn’t the best, I thought I still had a shot to win, but a podium is a win to me," he said. And when asked about his cyclocross future and Worlds, he said that he is "aiming for the podium for that. I think I have the fitness to do it.”
No Medals but Worlds Team Implications Beyond Third
While most eyes and streaming video cameras were on the leading three, the race for the other positions heated up. While many fans expected to see names like Danny Summerhill (Maxxis Shimano) and perpetual holeshot winner Zach McDonald up front, Kerry Werner (Raleigh-Clement) and Page gave chase. It was a losing battle in their chase for the jersey, but at least for Page, a likely winning battle for a spot on the Worlds team to be announced in the next few days.
After a hard-fought battle, and a few bumps, Page escaped Werner to take fourth, with Werner in fifth.
Werners' teammate, USA Cycling's ProCX title winner Jamey Driscoll, a self-described diesel engine, moved his way up sixth. Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), in his return from back injury, rode to big crowd cheers, and had a steady ride to finish seventh.
When asked about his performance, Page said, "I was the fourth best. I wasn’t superman. I did the best I could. I honestly wish they had Nationals here a couple more years. It’s a very good championship course. It’s really great course."
McDonald would wow the crowd, riding the Heckle Hill run-up and used a nose wheelie-turn to enter into the Cane Creek woods. McDonald would finish 19th, after finishing 3rd last year.
Summerhill finished just ahead in 17th. Justin Lindine, returning from injury, had a strong ride to finish 13th after skipping his chance to defend the 2015 Singlespeed National Championships on Friday.
Jack Kisserberth (Jam Fund / NCC / Vittoria) and Ben Frederick (beyondCX) had impressive rides to finish 11th and 12 respectively, beating some bigger names in cyclocross.
At the end of the day it was a race between three men. "We [Owen, Hyde and Powers] have some great battles ahead of us. I definitely hope to keep racing [cyclocross]," said Owen.
- Just as in the women's race, the leaders did not swap bikes or visit the pits, while earlier races saw leaders swapping bikes four times in three laps.
- Jonathan Page rode a several-year-old Altamira CX with cantilever brakes instead of his disc brake Altamira we profiled last year.
- Several pit crews told Cyclocross Magazine that even though their riders didn't pit, they wished the riders did, as bikes and pedals were getting clogged and they observed the few racers who did pit appeared to be going faster with clean bikes. But in tight racing, the risk of a gap opening up kept racers from entering pit lane.
- The UCI (Jr 17-18 men, Women's Youth, U23 Men, Elite Men and Women) categories rode an extended course that featured a loop around the bike barn and an extra run-up.
Photo gallery below the results.
2016 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships Elite Men Full Results
|1||Jeremy POWERS||ASPIRE RACING||56:45.|
|2||Stephen HYDE||Cannondale Cyclocrossworld||56:55.|
|3||Logan OWEN||Cal Giant/Specialized||57:26.|
|5||Kerry WERNER||UCI CT/WPT: Team Optum p/b Kell||59:26.|
|7||Ryan TREBON||Cannondale Cyclocrossworld||59:51.|
|8||Travis LIVERMON||Mock Orange CX pb VP Components||59:52.|
|11||Jack KISSEBERTH||JAM Fund / NCC / Vittoria||1:00:38.|
|13||Justin LINDINE||Apex / NBX / Trek||1:00:59.|
|14||Allen KRUGHOFF||Noosa Pro Cyclocross||1:01:19.|
|15||Tristan COWIE||Mock Orange CX pb VP Components||1:01:25.|
|16||Anthony CLARK||Squid Bikes||1:01:39.|
|18||Jeremy DURRIN||Neon Velo Cycling Team||1:02:04.|
|20||Tim ALLEN||Feedback Sports Racing||1:02:28.|
|21||Troy WELLS||TEAM CLIF BAR Cycling||1:02:51.|
|22||Kevin BRADFORD-PARISH||Set / Coaching.com||1:02:54.|
|23||Daniel CHABANOV||HOUSE INDUSTRIES - WITHINGS - S||1:02:58.|
|24||Andrew JUILIANO||ROCK LOBSTER||1:03:19.|
|25||Robert MARION||American Classic||1:03:33.|
|26||Jake WELLS||Stans NoTubes Elite CX||1:03:56.|
|27||Alex RYAN||MOB PRO CYCLING TEAM pb VP Com||1:04:02.|
|28||Dan TIMMERMAN||Stans NoTubes Elite CX||1:04:11.|
|29||Adam MYERSON||Cycle-Smart Inc.||1:04:16.|
|30||Tristan UHL||Giant South||1:04:38.|
|31||Cole OBERMAN||Rare Disease Cycling||1:05:18.|
|32||Michael MIHALIK||J Mac Cycling LLC||46:31.|
|33||Philip SHORT||Hearts Racing Club||46:31.|
|36||Ryan WOODALL||Top Gear Bicycles||46:35.|
|38||John PURVIS||Tyson Foods Cycling Team||46:36.|
|39||Dylan POSTIER||EVOKE Racing||46:37.|
|40||Andrew REARDON||Sonic Cycling||46:41.|
|42||Lewis GAFFNEY||Giant South||47:05.|
|44||Braden KAPPIUS||TEAM CLIF BAR Cycling||47:28.|
|45||Frank TRAVIESO||Team United Healthcare Georgia/||47:30.|
|47||Nicholas LEMKE||KONA/HiFi/Anchor And Frame||47:50.|
|49||Hunter RESEK||Charm City Cycling/C3-Twenty20c||48:05.|
|50||Josh BAUER||Twin Six||38:33.|
|51||Brandon FEEHERY||Crank Radlers||30:17.|