Only a minute into race, Trebon was leading until Powers took off early out of a turn, and Page was the only one able to stay with him. Powers was the first to the limestone steps, with Page right on his wheel. McDonald remained near the front with the leaders, and despite an early bobble that forced him into a dismount that all others were riding, he was able to work his way up to third, still in the hunt for the win, while Trebon fell back.
“The course wasn’t as slick as I was hoping,” McDonald told Cyclocross Magazine right after the race, “but it was choppy, it was hard. Once it was getting faster out there, I knew Page would start to take off. But I think the big surprise was Powers running so well. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
At the second limestone staircase, Powers and Page separated themselves further, with Stephen Hyde (Jam Fund / NCC), Summerhill, and Trebon charging up behind on the stairs.
Powers created gaps on Page during the straightaways, and rode the tricky Volkswagen downhill before the barriers. While the two leaders had a distinct gap on the first lap, there were still plenty of riders in the top 15 lingering at the front. Kerry Werner (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit), Anthony Clark (Jam Fund) and Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart) were among the lead pack, which also included Troy Wells (Team CLIF Bar), who had a phenomenal start to the race. Up the muddy run-up, leading to the stairs, Page looked stronger than Powers.
Although the Aspire rider was out in front, this was not a situation Powers must have been thrilled about. He had a dominating performance in American cyclocross and among Americans in Europe. Throughout the course of 2014-15, only two Americans had bested him: Danny Summerhill in the Derby City Cup, and Page at the Milton Keynes World Cup. Having one of those two riders attached to his wheel guaranteed that a victory wouldn’t go uncontested.
Local rider and nationally recognized mountain biker Uhl was unable to bounce back from the difficult start, and as he took aggressive lines in the mud, he went down several times in the early goings.
Immediately onto the grass, Powers stretched his lead to Page by five bike lengths, with Page looking back at a surging McDonald. Summerhill flew down the pit straightaway, towing Dan Timmerman (HOUSE INDUSTRIES/SIMPLEHUMAN/RICHARD SACHS) and Hyde, and the group would make contact with McDonald.