BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — If you didn’t witness newly crowned U.S. cyclocross champion Jeremy Powers’ third lap on Sunday, you need to watch it right now.
Powers (Rapha-Focus) won his second U.S. national title in emphatic fashion in Boulder, acing the headline event of the five-day nationals on the strength of eight blistering lap times.
The Massachusetts-based 30-year-old laid down the fastest lap of the week during his third go-around, when he distanced runner-up Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) by seven seconds, driving the race-winning wedge after a ballistic opening trio of laps. Trebon held tight for 2.5 trips around the Valmont Bike Park course, but could not match Powers’ 7:16 lap time. That effort gave Powers the fastest of the week, seven seconds better than Trebon, 14 better than third-place Tim Johnson (Cannondale), and 1:05 faster than 10-time elite women’s champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective).
“Today I had amazing legs,” Powers told VeloNews at the finish. “This will be one of those days that I’ll always remember. This was … it was awesome.”
It was awesome, certainly, to watch, and not necessarily because Powers, one of the gregarious faces of U.S. cyclocross, was riding to victory, but because of the show he was putting on in doing so.
After that standard-establishing third lap, Powers continued on to set the next three fastest times of the week, with 7:21, 7:21, and 7:20. By the time he finished, 59:16 into the race, his slowest lap, at 7:34, was faster than any of fourth-place finisher Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement).
Trebon said Powers’ explosive start took him by surprise, and though he tried to hang on, the multiple-time national champion simply could not.
“That’s not at all how I was expecting the race to be. Jeremy just went from the start. I was suffering,” Trebon told VeloNews. “A couple mistakes and he was gone, and I spent the rest of the race chasing. … I rode a steady race, but Jeremy was just faster.”
One would expect that launching such an audacious attack on a race at 5,280 feet above sea level would come as a highly calculated risk: go all-out, as long as possible, and dare the rivals to follow, knowing you’ve been adapting to the thin air for almost three weeks. But not so for Powers, who said he was riding by feel.
“I felt very confident at the altitude, I’d done a lot of work up here and I definitely was ready for the hard effort for an hour,” he said. “I didn’t plan it; I just went off instinct and it worked out.”
“Worked out” is putting it mildly. Powers crafted his second national title on the back of six opening laps that had spectators shaking their heads. He held a 43-second advantage over Trebon at the finish. Johnson, a three-time U.S. champion, was 1:36 back. In the video production compound, staff were supposing midway through that surely he couldn’t hold that pace for an hour. But hold it he did, and in doing so, he regained the stars and stripes jersey that meant so much to him in 2012 — after a decade of close calls.
The Jeremy Powers show at the 2014 U.S. cyclocross nationals is one that he will remember, and he is not alone. Now, if you still haven’t done it, go watch that video.