IOWA CITY, Iowa (VN) — Jamey Driscoll rev’d up the diesel and went long for the win on day 3 of the Jingle Cross Rock in Iowa City, Iowa.
Todd Wells (Specialized) nearly closed a 20-second gap in the final lap after a slow start, but could not catch a consistent Driscoll.
Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) passed Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) after the former national champion rolled a tire and crashed on the steep descent Mt. Krumpit with 1.5 laps to go.
Heavy on the climbs
The third and final iteration of the Johnson County Fairgrounds had the most climbing of the weekend. The 200-vertical-foot Mt. Krumpit saw riders twice per lap, first with a 20-plus-degree ride/run-up that led into a slick, off-camber traverse, and later with a long, grinding climb up the left flank that steepened as it neared the summit. A steep, off-camber descent with two corners returned riders to the base of the complex.
Outside of Krumpit, the course was again largely a grass criterium, though technical sections in and around a number of stables on the property, as well as a tough, uneven corner along a muddy ditch, challenged riders’ bike handling.
Temperatures were the warmest of the weekend, hovering around 45 Fahrenheit at start time under sunny skies. A moderate wind blew across one section of long straightaways near the service pit, making solo efforts draining in the third race of the weekend.
Schouten screams onto the grass
Tristan Schouten (Cyclocrossracing.com-Blue) got off the line quickest at the bell, leading the field onto the winding grass criterium section. As Troy Wells (Clif Bar), Trebon and teammate Barry Wicks followed closely, Todd Wells came to a near stop when he slowed and a rider behind him ran a pedal into his calf.
“You’re just jockeying for position,” said Todd Wells. “Somebody slowed down and I was overlapped on Troy’s wheel so I had to hit my brakes. You slow down a little at the start and you drop a lot of positions.”
The incident dumped Wells out of the top 10 — and a resulting crash three riders back put five bikes on the ground with veteran Steve Tilford (Tradewind Energy-Trek) at the bottom of the pile.
Playing the mental game
Schouten led onto the steep ascent of the face of Mt. Krumpit, but when Trebon bobbled and nearly came off his bike, Driscoll accelerated.
“I was able to go around him and I knew that with Ryan, if you can defeat him mentally early, it plays to your advantage later in the race,” said Driscoll. “So I hit it as hard as I could then to get a gap from him.”
The Cannondale rider’s plan worked as Trebon dropped back to fifth wheel behind Troy Wells, eight seconds behind the new leader. No one in the field would see Driscoll’s face again until the finish.
“It was definitely early because it was on the first lap, but I thought I would get the gap and see what (Trebon) did on the hill, because that’s by far his strongest point,” said Driscoll, who powered through the long, open grass sections and used his Jamis-Sutter Home road skills to slice the criterium corners. “I went into time trial mode and went as hard as I could.”
Behind Driscoll, Trebon moved into second after the opening lap and was joined two laps later by Todd Wells. The Kona rider let his anger get the best of him, however, which played into Wells’ hands.
“I would get a small gap on him here or there and he would close it on the flats,” said Wells. “He was Tre-boo-hooing out there, though. I could hear him crying on different sections of the course when he was screwing up so I knew he was mentally cooked today.”
With the third head of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com Ghidrah 20 seconds ahead and largely out of sight, a run of mechanical issues and dabs took Trebon out of the race mentally. When he rolled a tire and crashed on a right-hand switchback high on the steep descent with 1.5 laps remaining, Trebon’s podium spot — and top-three points — slipped away.
“It’s just so steep and you make that sharp turn, there’s really a lot of side load. It happens,” he said. “I couldn’t ride it, it would just roll off again.”
As the Kona rider ran down the face of Mt. Krumpit, Jones rolled past and into third.
“I was getting closer to Ryan and he crashed and I passed him,” said Jones. “He took a bike change and couldn’t catch back up.”
Driscoll fades, Wells surges
On the front of the race, Driscoll began to fade as he entered the bell lap. His advantage shrank to 16 seconds at the barriers a third of the way in to the circuit with Wells in hot pursuit. Driscoll kept his eye on the gap as the riders passed each other near the stables.
“I think I faded from my early effort and Wells was coming strong at the end,” said Driscoll. “I could tell he was closing, but not at an alarming rate.”
Thirty seconds behind the leader, Jones was putting it all on the grass to try and bring Wells back.
“I thought maybe I could get to Todd. If I could get him into sight on the climb, I could catch him,” said Jones, who finished on the podium all three days this weekend. “He held his ground there.”
Driscoll also held his ground, and after nearly an hour of racing, he came through the finish, both hands pumping above his head, for his second win of the weekend. Driscoll sat out Saturday’s C2 race to rest up for the main event and said the win felt, “damn good.”
“I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself taking yesterday off,” he said. “I did it to be rested, but it’s just as much mental pressure to come through on my plan. I never would have heard the end of it if I’d gotten rested up but didn’t deliver.”
Wells came through soon after and was satisfied with the result after a tough start.
“I felt like I was getting this weekend better and better,” said Wells, who was forced to take time off the bike after crashing hard at the USGP New Belgium Cup two weeks ago.
Jones followed for third. “It was a hard way to do it, but it worked out well,” he said.