Tim Johnson reacts as Jeremy Powers sprints across the line for the win Saturday at Day 1 of the USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend. ©Pat Malach

Tim Johnson reacts as Jeremy Powers sprints across the line for the win Saturday at Day 1 of the USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend. ©Pat Malach

by Pat Malach

BEND, OREGON – Former longtime teammates Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson put on a thrilling one-on-one smackdown Saturday during Day 1 of the USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup, with Powers eventually taking a two-up sprint ahead of Johnson but just barely hanging on, after celebrating a tick too soon.

Powers (Rapha-Focus), the series leader, and Danny Summerhill (Chipotle Development Team) jumped out to an early lead on a course that was fast and dusty after several weeks of unseasonably bone-dry weather. Summerhill led Powers through the start-finish after one lap, while the chase behind included Johnson (, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper), Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Canadian national champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano).

Jones eventually powered up to the two leaders, bringing Johnson, Berden, Kabush and Sheppard along with him. Jones then went to the front and forged a small advantage, with Johnson attacking into second and Powers and Berden chasing behind.

A crash in a grass corner by Jones just after the flyover and an attack from Johnson, followed closely by Powers, pushed the duo into the lead alone while Summerhill, Sheppard and Kabush were slowed behind Jones’s mistake.

On the front, Johnson’s and Powers’ efforts to gain any advantage over one another served only to distance the duo from the rest of the field as they built a large gap over a chasing group that had grown to include Summerhill, Kabush, Sheppard, Jones, Berden, Jamey Driscoll(, Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar) and Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus).

The big duel that cyclocross fans had been waiting for since Powers left his old team and signed with Rapha had finally materialized as the he and Johnson were locked in a battle in which neither seemed able to deliver a knockout blow. The pair took the bell neck-and-neck, with Johnson getting an advantage as they headed into the Dusty “Old Mill” side of the course, but Powers surged into the lead with about half a lap to go.

Johnson sat on Powers’ wheel and tried to squeeze past on the stairs just before the finish line, but Powers maintained his lead up the stairs, through a short off-camber grass section and then the final 180-degree right-hand turn.

Johnson had the inside line through the corner and looked like he might be able to squeeze past his former teammate, but Powers closed down the space and kicked hard into his finishing sprint. Powers’ effort opened a small gap on Johnson, and, just like he did in the Louisville USGP, Powers began to throw up his trademark one-armed salute. But Johnson wasn’t quite dead yet, and the wily veteran made another surge that caused Powers to drop back onto the bars and give one last effort for the line, crossing just ahead of Johnson, who appeared to pound his bars in frustration.

After the race Johnson said he could have kept moving up on the inside, but Powers was in that space and if he had tried to take the space, “it would have been ugly.”

“Sprints are funny because there are gray areas and there are definitely no gos,” Johnson said. “When you’re in the front, you have a lot more ability to make those decisions. But he was in front of me and I was coming up on his inside, and it was going to be a straight-up sprint so I wasn’t going to do that.”

Summerhill charged across the line next for third after having opened a gap on Driscoll, Berden, Kabush and Sheppard. Jones and McDonald came in next for eighth and ninth after mounting a furious chase to regain the second group on the course, netting the U23 win and overall series lead for McDonald.

Powers said that at points during the race he didn’t think he’d have enough for the win, but he hung on long enough to make it happen.

“Tim was riding the technical sections better than I was,” he said. “He was on his game today. It’s the best he’s ridden all year. At one point I thought it was his race to lose because I was in the box most of the day. But at the end I felt like I really wanted to finish the series off strong. I just put in a hard last lap and got it in the sprint. That was the best I could do.”

Powers said the win was particularly gratifying after two years of disappointment at Nationals in Bend, but he said his early celebration was one regret from the day.

“I’m definitely going to hear about it,” he said. “I’m going to give myself crap for sitting up. It’s disrespectful. I don’t know what’s wrong with my brain to think that I could do that again. Whatever. We all make mistakes, and I just gotta deal with it. I’m not bummed to win but I am bummed that I did that. It is what it is.”

Other Race Notes: Multi-time junior National Champion Logan Owen took the win in the men’s 17-18 race, finishing ahead of Andrew Dillman, Tobin Ortenblad, Zane Godby and Richard Gorry. Local rider Ben Thompson won the Masters 35+ race ahead of JT Fountain, Richard Feldman, Shannon Skerritt and Michael Gallagher.

Photo gallery — Pat Malach/

USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup, Day 1
Dec. 10

1Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha/Focus 
2Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com 
3Daniel Summerhill (USA) Chipotle Development Team 
4James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com 
5Ben Berden (Bel) Ops Ale - Stoemper 
6Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain 
7Chris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Shimano 
8Christopher Jones (USA) Rapha/Focus 
9Zach Mcdonald (USA) Rapha/Focus 
10Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar 
11Mitchell Hoke (USA) Tokyo Joe'S 
12Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com 
13Sean Babcock (USA) Kona 
14Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport 
15Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder / Clif Bar 
16Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Mtb 
17Yannick Eckmann (Ger) Pearlizumi/Shimano 
18Tristan Schouten (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue Bicycles 
19Kevin Noiles (Can) Sportique 
20Braden Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar 
21Barry Wicks (USA) Kona 
22Justin Robinson (USA) California Giant Cycling 
23Russell Stevenson (USA) Raleigh 
24Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona/Team S&M 
25Steve Fisher (USA) Revel Consulting / Rad Racing Nw 
26Donald Reeb (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue 
27Jake Wells (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team 
28Carl Decker (USA) Giant 
29Mark Mcconnell (Can) Synergy Racing 
30Scott Tietzel (USA) Plains To Peaks Racing 
31Damian Schmitt (USA) Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside Sports 
32 (-3 laps)Chris Mackay (USA) Realcyclist.Com 
33Gian Dalle Angelini (USA) Rio Blanco 
34 (-4 laps)Josh Whitney (USA) Rocky Mounts~Izze 
35Aaron Bradford (USA) Bay101/Hrs/Rocklobster 
36Kolben Preble (USA) Clif Bar Development Cross Team 
37John-Christian Flack (USA) Olympia Orthopaedic Associates 
38Paul Lacava (USA) Giant Cycling Club/ Giant Cycling Team 
39Jason Holbrook (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport 
40Nathan Bannerman (USA) Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue Competitive Cycles 
41Brent Gorman (USA) Speedway Cycles 
42Chris Jackson (USA) Rambuski Law 
43Matthew Fox (USA) Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside 
44 (-5 laps)John Behrens (USA) Bailey Bikes 
45John Bailey (USA) Bailey Bikes 
46Matt Lyons (USA) University Of Denver 
47John Mundelius (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized 
48 (-6 laps)Cole Sprague (USA) Reed College 
49Evan Renwick (USA) Cycle U-Pop Cap 
50Henry Kramer (USA) Cal Giant / Specialized 
51 (-9 laps)James Gentes (USA) 
DNFJerome Townsend (USA) Smartstop / Mockorangebikes/Ridley 
DNFAaron Tuckerman (NZl) Corsa Concepts Cyclocross Team 
DNFDrew Mackenzie (Can) Condo Group/Shimano/Marin 
DNFJustin Lindine (USA) Bikereg.Com / Joe'S Garage