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Powers, Compton storm USGP opener
By Ben Delaney
VeloNews editor
Filed: October 27, 2007

Jeremy Powers and Katie Compton finished the first round of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross the way they started it - at the front.

Powers easily overpowered the Kona juggernaut

photo: Kurt Jambretz

Those similarities aside, the pro races in Louisville, Kentucky, played out very differently.

For the first half of the pro men's event, it was two-on-two competition as Powers and teammate Tim Johnson traded blows with Kona's Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks. Then, it was just two as Powers and then Johnson rode clear.

"I have to say I was surprised that Ryan didn't have more," Powers said. "When we saw him falter we immediately took control of the race and went as hard as we could. Tim was riding great."

Johnson and Powers came into the USGP weekend having traded UCI wins in Gloucester. Wicks and Trebon came to Kentucky at the tail end of some heavy traveling, which perhaps explained the performance of the pair that dominated the USGP series for the last three years.

Wicks and Trebon didn't dominate as usual

photo: Kurt Jambretz

"We had to pounce," Johnson said. "Usually Ryan and Barry are the number one and two strongest guys in the race and it's hard to break them up and beat them. Today we hit them over and over again, to see how they were riding. Ryan wasn't in top shape, and Barry wasn't either, so we just kept drilling it."

At the start, Wicks took the hole shot, followed by Powers, Joachim Parbo (CCV), Trebon, Chris Jones, Adam Hodges-Myerson (both Nerac) and Johnson. But within a few turns, Powers pulled past Wicks and hit the gas. The day's first split contained Powers, Johnson, Trebon, Wicks, Jones, Parbo and Jesse Anthony (Jamis).

Soon the latter trio was shed, and the two-on-two battle began. Initially Trebon and Wicks not only responded to the alternating attacks of Powers and Johnson, but threw in a few moves of their own. After a few laps, however, Trebon and Wicks started to fade, struggling to close down the gaps.

"My body just doesn't work," Trebon said afterward. "My left leg doesn't pedal, and that twists my back up. And I just can't go anywhere. I'm pedaling at half capacity. It's okay for about 20 minutes, but then it just shuts down."

A rich and challenging route

photo: Kurt Jambretz

Johnson took advantage, flying through the technical sections and often exiting them with a gap.

"That's kind of the thing that we do," Johnson said. "Ryan is a different rider than I am. He's got way more power. He can get on the gas and hold it. I don't have as much power, so I have to make up more in other places. If I can move around a little better in the twisties and take some of the corners more aggressively I can either catch up to him or put the hurt on him."

Wicks was the first Kona rider to tail off. Then, sensing opportunity, Powers opened it up again. When Johnson saw Trebon couldn't follow, he attacked too, and soon joined his teammate off the front with two laps to go.

Powers puts the hammer down

photo: Kurt Jambretz

Behind, a few marquee riders were making their way up through the field. Chris Horner (Predictor-Lotto) powered his way through the strung-out bunch, taking a spectacular tumble in the process. National mountain bike champion Adam Craig (Giant) earned the SRAM most aggressive rider of the day award for moving up from near the back into fifth at the finish. He also could have earned the most playful rider award, jumping his bike and riding wheelies over table-top sections.

'My body just doesnít work,' Trebon said

photo: Kurt Jambretz

"It got a little out of hand," Craig said, referring to a dropped chain due to showboating. "On one turn I had a sweet line that was like, opposite lock, air, in, then cut it around. It was super fun but a lot of laterally bumping torque. Totally worth it. I don't think I would have caught Ryan anyway. I did my trademark pedal slip at the start. I told the guy behind me he was screwed, and he was. This is how I like to start the Gran Prix season off: a terrible start, riding through, entertaining people, and getting the most aggressive rider for the day so I can buy my mechanic dinner."

As Powers and Johnson extended their lead, Trebon quit riding aggressively and was passed by Wicks for third.

Craig is rewarded for his aggressive ride

photo: Kurt Jambretz

"Ryan and I aren't feeling that great this weekend," Wicks said. "Powers is riding super good, and Timmy is riding good. If we're not 100 percent, it's going to be impossible to beat them."

On the podium, Powers was all smiles, dousing the photographers with champagne.

"I've never done that before," he said of the bubbly spray-down. "Things are awesome. I'm on top of the world."

Powers attributed part of his success to being aggressive from the start.

"Since Gloucester I've been trying to get to the front more," he said. "At New York I was so discouraged because I missed the race because I got stuck in traffic. I wasn't happy with that. From then on in I decided that I wasn't going to sit back anymore and let guys get in front of me if I could have a strong start. If I didn't have any problems I could make sure I was there."

In the mix
Within the pro men's race was another race: the under-23 competition. World silver medalist Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar) took that title in a sprint with last year's U23 USGP champ Jamie Driscoll (Fiordifruitta).

Summerhill celebrates his win

photo: Kurt Jambretz

Summerhill used non-U23 racers to his advantage. Early in the race Driscoll powered away from Summerhill, who chased alone until Horner came past.

"He was just on a roll and catching everyone," Summerhill said. "Being that he's just a powerhouse and not that much of a technical guy, he'd kinda mess up and bobble and let me have a chance to actually stay on his wheel, which was nice. He towed me back up to Jamie. And from there I was on Jamie's wheel the whole time."

Coming into the finish, Summerhill positioned himself behind 'cross veteran Hodges-Myerson and Driscoll. Hodges-Myerson opened up the sprint, Summerhill stayed in the draft, and Driscoll couldn't come around.

"I guess I've got to give an apology to Adam, since we weren't working with him," Summerhill said. "Sorry, Adam."

Total domination
In the women's race, Katie Compton (Spike) put on an impressive display of force, riding away from the field almost from the gun to finish with a 1:20 lead on second-placed Georgia Gould (Luna).

Through the first few corners of the race, Compton led an elite group of women who all happened to be Canadian: Wendy Simms, Lyne Bessette and Alison Sydor.

Compton dominates again

photo: Kurt Jambretz

"I didn't get my foot in at the start, so I didn't have a good start," Compton said. "But a hole opened up at the first turn so I jumped in it. Then [the next] corner was so wide I could just pedal through the outside and move to the front."

Soon, the UCI points leader and three-time national champion was clear, and she never looked back.

Behind, the Canadians traded pulls while Gould chased up from her mid-pack starting position.

"I've only done one UCI race this year and that was in Vegas, so I'm in a little bit of a points deficit," Gould said. "I started in the third row, and really in that first part of the race until the barriers there's nowhere to move up. Even though it's wide, it was four people wide the whole way. So when it started spreading out a little bit and moving into the straightaways I was able to pick people off."

photo: Kurt Jambretz

Gould made contact with the chase group, but didn't wait around long.

"They were just riding around marking each other, and I want to win the race," Gould said. "So I attacked them, and then just rode around by myself because Katie was so far off the front."

Gould would finish 20 seconds up on the Canadian trio, with Sydor taking the sprint for third. After having been beat by Simms at the Canadian national championships in a sprint finish, Sydor played her cards differently with the same two competitors this go around.

"I learned last week at the nationals that it's pretty hard to pass at the end, so I was looking to find a place to pass," Sydor said. "Wherever I was, I wanted to be in the lead before the last run-up. I thought it was advantageous to do that and try and hold on until the finish. I was able to lead from the front and get a gap [over Bessette]. Wendy was chasing but never did really quite catch."

Racing continues Sunday with round two of the USGP, again in Louisville, where there are now two questions. Can anyone ride with Compton? And will Powers and Johnson be able to repeat their 1-2?

Check for the full report tomorrow.

1. Jeremy Powers, Cyclocrossworld.Com, 1:04:07
2. Tim Johnson, Cannondale/Leer/Cyclocrossworld.Com, 1:04:12
3. Barry Wicks, Kona-Yourkey.Com, 1:05:20
4. Ryan Trebon, Kona-Yourkey.Com, 1:05:55
5. Adam Craig, Giant, 1:06:27
6. Matt White, Fiordifrutta, 1:06:41
7. Jesse Anthony, Jamis Bicycles, 1:06:54
8. Christopher Jones, Nerac Pro Cycling, 1:07:05
9. Joachim Parbo, Ccv Cicli Protek Team, 1:07:14
10. Troy Wells, Team Clif Bar Cyclocross, 1:07:19

1. Katie Compton, Spike Shooter, 1:05:20
2. Georgia Gould, Luna, 1:05:55
3. Wendy Simms, Kona-Yourkey.Com, 1:06:27
4. Alison Sydor, Rocky Mountain Haywood, 1:06:41
5. Lyne Bessette, Cyclocrossworld.Com, 1:06:54
6. Rachel Lloyd, Proman/Paradigm, 1:07:05
7. Kerry Barnholt, Tokyo Joes / Van Dessel, 1:07:14
8. Sue Butler, River City Bicycles, 1:07:19
9. Wendy Williams, River City Bicycles, 1:07:26
10. Sarah Kerlin, Hrs/ Rock Lobster, 1:07:31