Devou Park, Kentucky — A record one-day rainfall of 1.65 inches Thursday night caused many riders to mount their Limus and Rhino tires in order to tackle the run-off filled mud pits at three points on the course in Northern Kentucky today, the first race of the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival. Between the quad busting climbs, the mud, a stiff north wind and a triple set of telephone pole logs, the course played an active role in both the men’s and women’s races. Riders welcomed the sunshine and mid 50’s temperatures, but that only made the mud thicker as the day wore on.
With the ruts drying and fading afternoon sun glaring at his back, it was Barry Wicks (Kona) burying himself to take the first lap lead, nearly gapping Jeremy Powers (Rapha/Focus), and the Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld duo of Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll. Maybe Wicks knew something the others didn’t; 100 meters into the first section of downhill grass, the back third of the pack went down in a heap. Many wouldn’t see the finish line. Smelling blood, Wicks churned away at the front driving the first few turns, cleanly making it through the bandshell mud pit and punching it up the first climb. The move looked decisive as Johnson also went down in a mud-pit pile-up just behind Wicks. Suddenly, the Kona duo of Wicks and Sean Babcock, along with Powers and Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) slipped away from Johnson and the rest halfway through lap one. Later, Powers would tweet an apology to his former teammate, admitting to making a mistake that sent Johnson for “a triple somersault.”
Opting to ride the triple logs and hit the lower mud at full gas, a front group of Wicks, Trebon and Powers formed with Ben Berden (Ops Ale/Stoemper) and Driscoll chasing. Babcock and Johnson teamed up as the third group going into lap two. Just behind, a loose group of seven strong including young Joshua Johnson (BikeReg.com) worked together to close the gap.
Powers, showing the form that’s placed him and Trebon at the top of American cyclocross, managed to jump away from the taller rider going into the third lap. The move strung the field out single-file with Driscoll desperately chasing Johnson, as Berden and Wicks wishing they had a wheel to follow in Power’s wake. Johnson was most impressive, coming back from the lap 1 mud wreck to eventually make contact with Trebon in third position behind Driscoll.
The race went into autopilot after that decisive lap and remained relatively unchanged for the next four laps. With a comfortable lead, Powers opted to run the logs rather than risk a bobble. The real drama was behind Wicks, the course doing the damage to the once 30-strong field. With two laps to go, only eight riders remained on the lead lap. Gassed from the early chase, Johnson would eventually fade, handing Trebon the third step on the podium. Despite a valiant chase, Driscoll could never close the :24 gap to Powers.