Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) relied on his mountain bike skills to draw even with a constantly attacking Jeremy Powers Friday afternoon before leaving the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com rider with four laps to go and taking the solo victory at Devou Park in Covington, Kentucky.
Trebon’s teammate Barry Wicks rode past Powers two laps from the finish for second and taking in a cool $746 for the two-man Kona team on the first day of the three-day Cincinnati UCI3 Cyclocross Festival.
The Devou Park course was a monster, climbing hundreds of feet each lap over a series of non-stop sweeping drainages just over the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati. A dry, dusty day — a dramatic departure from the mud bath that a year ago tore up the opposite side of the course — faced riders and start time temperatures approached 90 F.
To say any one feature was the king of the park is not possible. A 40-foot, three-timber run-up led to the approach of two slightly downhill standard barriers. Three sections of downhill, loose, off-camber turns tested riders’ bike handling skills, as did the loose, 120-degree corner approaching a 30-feet, 25-plus-degree pitch that was rideable, so long as there wasn’t a muffed turn onto the base.
After the race Wicks said he’d had some reservations during warm ups. “Preriding I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be so hard,’ but racing it was really fun,” he said. “You could just find your rhythm and hit the lines and if you were smooth you could make time and recover and then go hard on the uphills. I really enjoyed it actually.”
Trebon leads out, Wicks goes moto-style
Trebon took the holeshot across the top of the amphitheatre and led the race onto the stair run-up mid-way through the opening lap. Most riders stayed on their bikes over the three timbers on the run-up and Powers attacked on the switchbacking, 40-foot climb. The USGP Planet Bike Cup day one winner got a quick gap, but Trebon drew him back on the winding descent on the backside of the course and the pair was clear. That trend would continue almost all day — Trebon living on his pro mountain bike skills to claw even with Powers, no handling slouch himself, lap after lap at the tip of the race.
A gap formed quickly behind the two leaders and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Trebon’s teammate Barry Wicks, who pitted in the opener after breaking a spoke, chased at around 30 seconds. “I did some pretty dicey moves,” said Wicks of his recovery from the early mishap. “I motocrossed Chris Jones a couple of times, full two-wheel drift, coming down through those corners.”
Another 20 seconds back, Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Brian Matter (Geargrinder) rode together, fighting to draw even with Wicks and a suffering Kabush.
For many riders, Powers included, the heat was the biggest factor on the day. Trebon said after the race that guys like Kabush and himself could more easily handle the conditions. “When you race mountain bikes, you’re used to just sitting here and suffering it out,” said Trebon.
The long Kona rider attacked Powers three laps in on the 100-meter section of climbing bike path leading into a switchback near the start. Trebon took a 10-second lead into the fourth lap, but Powers drew him back on the amphitheatre descent and again attacked on the run-up. And again Trebon used the back half of the course, including two loose, off-camber descents, to pull his rival back.
“We were pretty well evenly matched,” Powers said. “It’s good to see him ride at that level. It’s a good race for him.”
Wicks rode away from Kabush on the paved finish straight at the end of the fourth lap and pulled to within 10 seconds of his teammate, but never made contact with both leaders. Every time Wicks came close, Powers went to the front — or tried — and drilled the pace. Meanwhile, Kabush drifted down on time and Matter left Jones, Ryan Knapp (Bikereg.com) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar) to run a solo fifth.
A tire skip and a gap
With four laps remaining, Trebon led Powers into the run-up and when the latter skipped a tire and slowed into a heavy gear, the Kona ride pushed out a 10-second lead of his own. That move was the one, the gamer, and Trebon was on his own as Powers faded. “I think the heat got to him,” Trebon said.
The UCI this year has allowed feeding in the time between the first and last two laps when the thermostat tops 68 F. When Powers, thinking he was three laps from the finish, attempted to take a feed two laps from the finish, he was denied by the pit official and was forced to stop in the pit. Wicks was charging hard at that point and caught and rode through the New Englander soon after.
“Once Ryan went for real, Powers blew,” said Wicks, who registered his season best result. “I caught him pretty quickly and could tell he was hurting, so I put in a little dig going over the railroad ties really fast and he was just done.”
Powers suffered in third to hold off Kabush, who was also charging back when the pair came through for the bell lap. “I was just leaking oil all day,” Powers said. “I was so hot. It’s not a great day for me on the bike.”
On the front, Trebon rode steadily down the off-camber corners at the base of the course, Wicks in pursuit at 30 seconds. “I started to take it easy the last couple of laps, trying to not make any mistakes,” said Trebon, who chose to ride a mud tread tire because of the loose, off-camber corners on the course, which he called the hilliest, along with Granogue, Delaware, that he’ll race all season.
While Trebon metered his effort back to avoid disaster, the Kona duo, just out of sight of each other, did keep the gas on over the final two kilometers. Trebon arrived onto the finish straight alone under the high afternoon sun to take his first major win of the month-old season.
His eyes burning with sweat, Trebon said at the finish that Powers’ late-race collapse was just part of racing. “He’s been riding really well this year,” said Trebon. “You can’t fault somebody for having a bad day.”
Not a minute later, Wicks came through the finish, his lips drawn in the dry air. “It’s nice to not suck,” he said after securing his first UCI podium of what has been a tough early season. Trebon was “glad Barry stepped it up today and got second.”
Powers kept enough gas and oil in the tank to hold Kabush off for the final step on the podium and Matter rounded out the top five.
- 1. Ryan Trebon, Kona, 59:52
- 2. Barry Wicks, Kona, at 0:22
- 3. Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, at 0:43
- 4. Geoff Kabush, Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, at 1:00
- 5. Brian Matter, Gear Grinder, at 2:40