Specialized's Todd Wells takes the win. © Joe Sales

Specialized's Todd Wells takes the win. © Joe Sales

When people think of late-season cyclocross in Portland, images of mud, crashes and heavy crowds come to mind. But with cold, dry weather forecasted and a fast, tacky course on display during Friday’s previews, racers and fans who traveled to the largest ‘cross scene in America to revel in the mud were ready for disappointment for Day 1 of the USGP Stanley Portland Cup today.

But a late night sprinkle, heavy morning fog and thawing ground greeted racers with slick, muddy corners. Mid-morning racing featured some of the most slippery racing, with crashes the norm in the peanut butter mud that covered the course’s numerous off-camber corners.

Colorado native Amy Dombroski (Schlamm p/b Clement, Primus Mootry) saw the early conditions and was worried. “When I first got here around 12, I went out and was a little nervous because it was slick and pretty muddy, my bike got pretty muddy for sure,” she told Cyclocross Magazine. “[In] the first slippery section… everyone’s everywhere and they’re tripping over people… it’s like playing Twister that first lap.”

Although conditions dried throughout the day, the higher speeds combined with the still greasy corners created crashes and bobbles aplenty. But fans got what they wanted: Technical, tight racing with plenty of drama.

Nash Cements Series Win, Eyes Bigger Title

Katerina Nash in the lead. © Joe Sales

Katerina Nash (Luna) in the lead. © Joe Sales

Katerina Nash (Luna) came to Portland for the final stop of the USGP of Cyclocross with a commanding lead and a four-race winning streak. The unusually cold weather didn’t  keep her from heating up the race again this weekend.

While Nash’s Luna teammate Alison Dunlap was on hand to challenge the series leader, Amy Dombroski was looking to jump into second place in the series as she trails Gould by just a few points. Dombroski’s bid for today’s win was short lived though as Nash proved to be the most dominant rider on the domestic circuit right now.

From the gun, it was Canadian Champion, Alison Sydor (Maxxis/Rocky Mountain), who set the pace with Nash, Dombroski and Dunlap close behind.  It didn’t take long for Nash to take command though, going clear of Dombroski while Sydor and Dunlap fought it out for third.

As Nash stretched her lead from a few feet to five seconds, recent cyclocross revelation and current US Road Champion, Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) continued her climb through the field and into a fight for a podium spot.  The pace would prove too much for Sydor, as she gave up the chase and settled in behind Miller and Dunlap.  Luck was on her side though as a last-lap flat would send Dunlap backwards and Sydor once again found herself challenging for the podium.

Nash once again took a dominating win and grabbed enough points to seal up the 2009 USGP title with one more race on the schedule.  Twelve seconds behind, Dombroski crossed the line in second and moved up into second in the overall standings. A revived Sydor made a surprising late attack and outsprinted Miller for the final spot on the podium.

With the win, Nash guaranteed she’ll end the weekend with the USGP title. Since the Czech native isn’t eligible for the US Nationals race in Bend, she may extend her season with some Bay Area racing to keep her form for Worlds in Tabor.

“Worlds are a big goal,” she said. “This might be my last race in the US for this year, maybe I’ll do some local stuff in Reno or the Bay Area, then a good block of training and then head to Europe in January. Worlds are about an hour from me in southern Czech, so it’s essentially my hometown.”

Wells Peaking in Time for Bend

In the men’s race, improving course conditions made for a fast and exciting race today for the seventh round of the USGP of Cyclocross in Portland.  In what was most expected to be an winner-take-all shoot out between the Cannondale / trio of Tim Johnson, Jamey Driscoll and Jeremy Powers and the Twin-Towers of Kona/FSA, Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks, it was Todd Wells (Specialized) who would make a statement about his form with the US National Championships looming in the near future.

While Trebon came to Portland with a slim lead over Driscoll and Johnson, he has also missed a couple of key races in the latter half of the season.  Johnson, on the other hand, is riding the crest of one of his most successful seasons ever.

When the gun went off, it was Barry Wicks who took the holeshot, trying to force the pace for his teammate.  Johnson was on his wheel but the ensuing melee saw Trebon hit the dirt first.

Canadian Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Rocky Mountain) proved to be on form and came to Portland motivated for a top place on the podium, but the fight between Kona/FSA and Cannondale/ was front and center in the early going.

Ryan Trebon (Kona/FSA) took to the front early with Powers, Wells and Kabush. © Joe Sales

Ryan Trebon (Kona/FSA) took to the front early with Powers, Wells and Kabush. © Joe Sales

Trebon, determined to keep his series lead even if he couldn’t win, took to the front. “We started really hard the first lap and I saw we had a gap to Tim and Jamey,” Trebon explained. “I was racing for the series and had to show my cards early and was drilling it for six laps. But I paid for it. I wanted to make sure if I couldn’t win the race I could hold on to the series.”

As the race neared the halfway point, Powers and Trebon fought for the lead but Kabush and a coming-to-form Todd Wells (Specialized) stayed tight in the front group. Johnson led the chase group a few seconds back with Driscoll following close behind.

Powers, Trebon and Wells continued to fight while Kabush suffered from an untimely rolled tire and, after pitting, found himself chasing to stay in contention.  Up front, Trebon threw down and cracked the lead group, only to be countered by Wells.  Powers, meanwhile, stayed locked in third, keeping his rivals in sight.

As the gaps to the chase groups grew, the fight in the front heated up.  Wells continued to push, Powers followed and Trebon, after making contact with Wells on a remount, hit the deck.

“On the run-up towards the middle of the race, we were both running up and when he went to jump back on, his foot hit my front wheel and he had a little tumble up there,” Wells recalled. “He only lost a few seconds and came back to us, but I think that might have screwed him up a little mentally.” Trebon would be gapped again, and would permanently lose touch with the leading pair.

Behind, Driscoll, Johnson and Chris Jones (Champion Systems) could smell blood and looked to reel in a fading Trebon.

At the bell, it was Wells leading Powers with Trebon five seconds back, with almost 40 seconds to the chase group containing Driscoll, Johnson and Chris Jones.  Further back was U23 leader, Danny Summerhill (Felt – Holowesko Partners – Garmin) and Kabush, followed by early leader Barry Wicks.

Wells led the entire last lap, surging through the technical turns in an attempt to keep the fast-finishing Powers at bay, but a strong effort from Powers brought him up to Wells as the line drew near.

It was a calculated plan by the Specialized rider. “I had a small gap on Powers with two to go and I was giving it everything,” Wells told Cyclocross Magazine. “As we came through start / finish on the bell lap, he closed it down on me. I knew that at the end we were gonna really have to fight it out. I was able to get in front of him, I wanted to be in front of him through the technical section because if I rode good, I could put a few bike lengths on him and if I crashed or something, he’d have to wait to get around me. Either way was going to be good.”

It was good. Wells entered the final turn in the lead, hit the pavement with two bike lengths and kept that margin until the line. Trebon would roll in in third, 43 seconds in arrears.

Many fans expect Tim Johnson to dominate on a day filled with slick, off-camber muddy corners, but today the most dominant racer this season couldn’t quite make the front group. “It was like a two-stage race where the first stage, I just sucked and I couldn’t really get it together,” Johnson revealed. “I was kind of suffering physically and then technically I was just fumbling around and not really riding like myself. About 40 minutes in I was able to turn it around, do the last couple of laps faster and salvage at least a little bit of the race.”

Salvage he did. Johnson surged ahead, leaving Jones and Driscoll behind in an attempt to bring back the series-leading Trebon, but it would be too late. Johnson would roll across the line alone if fourth. Behind, Driscoll sat on Jones’ wheel for a lap before leaving him in pursuit of Johnson and ensuring the team would take three of the top five spots.

Geoff Kabush recovered from his rolled tire to finish eighth, just behind U23 standout Summerhill at the line.  Barry Wicks followed up his quick start with ninth and, making the top ten, first year U23 rider Zach McDonald (Stevens/Classic Cycles) finished off a great outing and took the SRAM Most Aggressive rider award.

No changes in the overall standings today but look for another great battle tomorrow. Trebon is in control but nothing is guaranteed. If Driscoll wins, Trebon needs to finish in ninth to win the USGP overall.

Dueling Duos Both Young and Old

In the both the USGP masters and juniors races, it was a tale of a leading duo at the front, with each rider taking turns attacking each other without success. In the junior race, it was Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant Berry) and Yannick Eckmann (Clif Bar) trading the lead, but never gaining more than five seconds. Kaiser went to the front early, but Eckmann came roaring back with two to and stayed at the front. Kaiser was content to watch the Clif Bar rider, and was confident in his finishing speed and ability to come around on the pavement. The confidence was deserved, as the Sacramento-based rider took the sprint with room to spare over Eckmann. Well back was Chris Wallace (KCCX / Verge / Navigators) in third.

In the Masters race, Erik Schulz and Andrew Messer took the holeshot and would never relinquish the lead. Just like in the junior race, both riders would take turns at the front, and Andrew Messer, as Eckmann in the junior race, took the lead midway through the race, but was it too much too early? Schulz stayed patient and the two entered the pavement finishing stretch together with Schulz taking the sprint for the win.

Full results at the bottom:

Photo Gallery by Joe Sales:

Photo Gallery by Josh Liberles

Full Results, Elite Men:
Rank Name Nat. Age* Result Pts Pts
1 Todd WELLS USA 35 1:00:59 60 60
2 Jeremy POWERS USA 27 1:01:00 40 40
3 Ryan TREBON USA 29 1:01:43 30 30
4 Timothy JOHNSON USA 33 1:02:04 25 25
5 James DRISCOLL USA 24 1:02:04 20 20
6 Christopher JONES USA 31 1:02:12 18 18
7 Daniel SUMMERHILL USA 21 1:02:57 16 16
8 Geoff KABUSH CAN 33 1:02:57 14 14
9 Barry WICKS USA 29 1:03:33 12 12
10 Zach MC DONALD USA 19 1:03:33 10 10
11 Adam CRAIG USA 29 1:03:50 8 8
12 Chris SHEPPARD CAN 37 1:03:50 6 6
13 Troy WELLS USA 26 1:04:54 4 4
14 Jerome TOWNSEND USA 21 1:05:00 2 2
15 Justin ROBINSON USA 35 1:05:00 1 1
16 Carl DECKER USA 35 1:05:00
17 Adam MCGRATH USA 23 1:05:00
18 David HACKWORTH USA 21 1:05:07
19 Tyler TRACE CAN 26 1:05:38
20 Jeremy FERGUSON USA 20 1:06:38
21 Eric TONKIN USA 36 1:06:39
22 Steve FISHER USA 20 1:06:39
23 Chance NOBLE USA 22 1:06:39
24 Sean BABCOCK USA 27 1:06:49
25 Spencer PAXSON USA 26 1:06:52
26 Brady KAPPIUS USA 23 1:07:05
27 Troy HEITHECKER USA 34 1:07:08
28 Kevin HULICK USA 37 1:07:18
29 Jesse ANTHONY USA 25 1:07:18
30 John BAILEY USA 37 1:07:37
31 Ben POPPER USA 28 1:07:41
32 Kevin BRADFORD-PARISH USA 28 1:07:52
33 Eric EMSKY USA 19 1:08:07
34 Molly CAMERON USA 34 1:08:14
35 Nathan BANNERMAN USA 22 1:08:16
36 Ryan IDDINGS USA 26 1:08:41
37 Nicholas WEIGHALL USA 23 1:08:47
38 Ryan KNAPP USA 26 1:08:51
39 Donald REEB USA 36

40 Brett LUELLING USA 29
41 Jason FIRST USA 27
42 Carson MILLER USA 21
43 Ryan LEACH USA 33
44 John CURRY USA 29
45 Travis WOODRUFF USA 27
46 John FLACK USA 41
47 Evan PLEWS USA 34
48 Joshua BERRY USA 20
50 Ryan WEAVER USA 33
51 Shannon SKERITT USA 39
52 Jonathan SUNDT USA 36
53 William ROSS USA 21
54 Mitchell PETERSON USA 23
56 Chris BRANDT USA 36
57 Michael HEMME USA 31
58 Craig FOWLER USA 38
59 Landon ERICKSSON USA 36
60 Benjamin KUBAS USA 34
61 Zachary EDWARDS USA 21
62 Katriel STATMAN USA 24
63 Nick BERRY CAN 31
64 Christopher RAGUSA USA 37
65 Matthew FOX USA 32
66 Kris HOLDEN USA 34
67 Christopher HILL USA 26
68 Adam MILLS USA 31
69 Kyle MURPHY USA 19

Full Results: Elite Women:

Rank Name Nat. Age* Result Pts Pts
1 Katerina NASH CZE 33 38:13 20 20
2 Amy DOMBROSKI USA 23 38:22 15 15
3 Alison SYDOR CAN 44 39:07 12 12
4 Meredith MILLER USA 37 39:07 10 10
5 Alison DUNLAP USA 41 39:38 8 8
6 Kelli EMMETT USA 33 39:54 5 5
7 Susan BUTLER USA 39 40:14 4 4
8 Linda SONE USA 38 40:38 3 3
9 Barbara HOWE USA 34 40:39 2 2
10 Maureen BRUNO ROY USA 35 41:00 1 1
11 Kaitlin ANTONNEAU USA 18 41:06
12 Deidre WINFIELD USA 34 41:25
13 Kristin WENTWORTH USA 31 41:43
14 Alice PENNINGTON USA 29 41:51
15 Lisa CURRY USA 29 41:51
16 Kristi BERG USA 34 42:08
17 Kari STUDLEY USA 30 42:14
18 Coryn RIVERA USA 18 42:14
19 Wendy WILLIAMS USA 41 42:39
20 Elizabeth FRYE USA 41 43:04
21 Anissa COBB USA 24 43:18
22 Ann KNAPP USA 42 43:18
23 Megan FARIS USA 31 43:23
24 Abby JENKINS USA 26 43:23
25 Joele GUYNUP USA 25 43:44
26 Serena BISHOP USA 31 43:45
27 Katrina BAUMSTEIGER USA 45 43:45
28 Jenni GAERTNER USA 35 43:52
29 Tina BRUBAKER USA 42 43:52
30 Shannon GIBSON USA 44 44:02
31 Amy FRYKMAN USA 37 44:15
32 Devon HASKELL USA 29 44:18
33 Jadine RILEY GBR 36 44:29
34 Shannon HOLDEN USA 34 44:36
35 Corey COOGAN USA 33 44:47
36 Veronica VEGA USA 31 44:58
37 Marian JAMISON USA 27 45:39
38 Amy BREYLA USA 34 46:01
39 Sarah MAILE USA 32 46:07
40 Patricia DOWD USA 38 46:39

Full Results: Junior Men
Rank Name Nat. Age* Result Pts Pts
1 Cody KAISER USA 18 39:19 10 10
2 Yannick ECKMANN USA 17 39:19 6 6
3 Chris WALLACE USA 18 41:24 4 4
4 Robin ECKMANN USA 18 41:31 2 2
5 Skyler TRUJILLO USA 18 41:55 1 1
6 Matthew SPINKS USA 17 42:59
7 Andrew BENNETT USA 18 43:19
8 Kolben PREBLE USA 17 43:52
9 Kosta PSALTIS USA 18 43:59
10 Cole CUTRIGHT USA 18 45:14
11 Nick BELL USA 18 45:28
12 Bjorn FOX USA 17 46:14
13 Evan RENWICK USA 17 47:34
14 J.D. FETTE USA 17 48:11
15 Philip SOMERS USA 18
16 Cole SPRAGUE USA 17