FORT COLLINS, Colorado (VN) — Not to be outdone by fellow national champion Katie Compton, Jeremy Powers also did the double this weekend, winning Sunday’s second round of the Smartwool Cup as he had the first.
Rapha-Focus teammate Chris Jones finished second while Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) took third.
The course, as though it hadn’t rained a drop the day before, was dry, rough and fast — and ready for searing high-altitude action.
“I was sitting in sixth wheel for quite a while. It was so fast today that it kinda really took me a while to get everything dialed in and feel comfortable because we were just going so fast,” said Powers. “This is the kind of course where, if you crash and you hit the deck, it’s probably game over, because it’s going to be a hard fall.”
While Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) led into the first corner, it was Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Chipotle) who was the aggressor on the first lap, opening up the throttle on each of the short, punchy climbs. Berden followed.
Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) led a group of chasers 5 seconds back. Kabush, Jones and Powers were in tow.
By the end of lap two, Summerhill led, but a charging Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cyclocross.com) was erasing the gap, the chase group locked in step.
Soon it was a group of six, with Yannick Eckmann (California Giant-Specialized) dangling just behind.
Summerhill seemed content to drill it on the front, while Eckmann finally made contact. The group of seven continued to churn away while extending their lead. The podium would come from this group.
“Summerhill was going super strong today,” said Powers.
On lap 4, Trebon decided to relieve Summerhill — finally — and dragged the Garmin rider and Berden with him. Johnson waited in the wings with Powers casually following his wheel.
Soon after Powers had had enough and effortlessly bridged to the leading trio.
It took a bit longer, but eventually Kabush joined, too, making it a leading group of five. A little bit longer and the leading group ballooned to eight, after Eckmann, Johnson and Jones rallied to join the party.
Just after the second pit on lap six, Summerhill had a mechanical that dropped him outside the top 10.
“I caught my chain outside of the chain catcher. So I had to force it back into the other side that it’s not supposed to be able to get outside of in the first place. That lost me heaps of time,” he said.
Lap seven saw Powers gap the field as he hopped his way up the stairs, then attacked into the course’s fastest and most rutted descent.
“When I did go, there was just a lull, I bet it was with three or four to go, and I just hit it as hard as I could,” Powers said.
The race exploded. A half lap later Powers led Kabush by 5 seconds, with Jones trailing close behind, waiting for his chance to jump the Canadian, not wanting to tow a rival up to his teammate.
“If I had gone earlier I could’ve pulled him up to Jeremy and then we could’ve lost first,” Jones said. “It’s more important to win and get third than to get second and third. It was just kind of a roadie move. Geoff knew it was coming, and he tried the best he could.”
With two laps to go, Powers rode smoothly to a 12-second lead.
But it was a charging Summerhill that captivated the fans. Chain back in place, he had latched onto the back of the trio of Trebon, Berden and Eckmann with one lap to go.
Trebon crashed shortly after the flyover, and after Powers, two fingers in the air, crossed the line in first, trailed by Jones and Kabush, Summerhill blazed to fourth in a four-up sprint to the line.
Despite landing on the lowest step of the podium, Kabush was pleased with his performance in Sunday’s race, which he called “really fast, like a crit.”
“It’s great to be back up here on the USGP podium,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to the Canadian national championships in November and the worlds in Louisville.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Colorado.