Powers, van Paassen hit Vegas jackpot
LAS VEGAS — Reigning US national champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Dutch rider Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank) took the Elite men’s and women’s wins Wednesday night at Cross Vegas, the first North American UCI C1-ranked cyclo-cross race of the 2012-13 season.
A very happy Powers admitted after the race that he went to sleep the night before not even sure if he would have a flight to Las Vegas.
“I had along day of flying because my flight got canceled last night,” he said. “So I had to fly this morning and take a standby flight, which means you don’t have any security. So I got up fingers crossed, and I made it hear by 10 a.m. I got lucky. That was very much ninja tactics today.”
But before Powers could pull off any ninja tactics to claim the top step of the podium at the big night in Las Vegas, he had to contend with a long list of talented riders who had their own plans to get there.
Wearing the colors of his new Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team for the first time, Bend’s Ryan Trebon rode aggressively and animated the early part of the race, helping set up new teammate Tim Johnson’s late-race surge and eventual second-place finish.
Trebon set out early and often as most of the race’s heavy hitters tested their legs on the front in the early laps. Europeans Lukas Fluckiger (Trek World Racing), Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), Arnaud Jouffroy (Telenet Fidea) and Rob Peeters (Telenet Fidea) joined US veteran Jonathan Page taking turns stretching things out on the front and thinning the ranks near the front. Powers initially showed signs of trouble, falling off the tip of the field to around 20 places back but staying in contact with the leaders.
Trebon came over the top of Johnson when things bunched up in the group and went on solo flyer, holding a gap of about dozen seconds over a splintering chase behind. Page and Jouffroy led the chase to bring Trebon back and brought with them a large group of about 15 riders, including a revitalized Powers.
Page crashed hard at the barriers and knocked himself out of the lead group with about five laps to go as the select group on the front set a smoking pace over the grassy, fast, relatively flat course situated a couple of miles off the famous Vegas strip. The lead group shrunk to about nine riders with several more dangling very close to completing a bridge. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) jumped next, breaking up the chase group as all the leaders tried to match the Belgium rider’s move.
Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) was the first rider to separate himself from the leaders and make a move toward Berden. The Canadian eventually made contact, forming a pair on the front as the chase behind exploded. Powers, Johnson, and Peeters formed a trio in the first chasing group. Kabush didn’t last long with Berden. He exploded and went backwards fast. Johnson set out on is own in pursuit Berden, while Powers and Peeters also quickly caught Kabush.
Berden, too, began to fade and was quickly reeled in by Johnson, Powers, Peeters and Kabush to form a five-rider lead group with three laps to go. The group rode together for most of a lap before Johnson attacked. Peeters followed but crashed on an off-camber turn. Johnson pressed his advantage, with Powers and Berden just about to bridge as they passed through the start/finish with two laps remaining.
After making contact with Johnson, Powers lit out next. Johnson was able to follow, but Berden lost contact for good, holding on about 10 seconds in arrears. Trebon, van de Haar, fluckiger and Jouffroy chased behind Berden.
At the front of the race, Powers attacked and dropped Johnson, taking the bell for the final lap with a nine second lead over his former teammate. Berden remained another 10 seconds back, while the Trebon group pressed on hoping to reel in at least Berden for the final podium spot. But none of the chases had paid off by the finish. Powers held on for the win, crossing the line about 18 seconds ahead of Johnson in second. Berden held on for the third spot, about half a minute down. Trebon crossed the line in the next chase group for sixth.
“Oh, man, that was a hard day,” Powers said at the finish. “I had been thinking about that for about a month now, so to finally pull it off feels really, really good.”
Patient van Paassen Pips Davison
In the 60-rider women’s race, Dutch rider Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank) laid in wait for the perfect time to pounce on the final lap and played her cards perfectly, taking the win just in front of pro mountain biker Leah Davison (Specialized) and road pro Alison Powers (Now & Novartis for MS).
Portland transplant Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), winner of all three rounds so far of the Grand Prix Tina Brubaker, shot off the line of the women’s race quickly and led for most of the first lap before falling in with a select group of about 15 riders who powered off the front on lap two.
The initial lead group included Powers, Davison, van Paassen, Amy Dombroski (Young Telent Fidea), Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), Robina Farina (Now & Novartis for MS), Chloe Woodruf (Crank Brothers), Kelli Emmett (Giant), Nicole Duke (Raleigh-Clement), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized), Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-No Tubes), Sabrina Schweizer (Rapha-Focus) and Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement).
Gould punched it just before the leaders went through with two laps remaining and whittled the lead group down to about 10. Counter attacks in the front whittled the leaders down to just Gould, Davison, Dombroski, Woodruff, van Paassen, Powers and Schweizer before Davison jumped off the front. The Specialized mountain biker built a lead of about 12 seconds starting the final lap before a chase, now driven by Powers started cutting into the gap.
The chase caught Davison with about half a lap remaining, providing the patient van Paassen with the perfect opportunity to counter attack and quickly build a lead of her own. The Dutch rider just held off a charging Davison at the line for her first win in the US. Powers rounded out the podium in third.
After the race van Paassen said the grassy, fast course combined with he large field and aggressive racing made for a very hard day at the office.
“For sure it was pretty pretty hard. My legs they were burning, and yeah, it was unbelievable,” she said. “There were so many attacks and they were so hard. The course was very hard. I was waiting, and I hoped somebody else get the girl in the red jersey (Davison) back. But, yeah, it was very hard.”
Van Paassen, who was racing in the US for the first time, also praised the enthusiastic crowd that came out for the Vegas race.
“It’s beautiful,” she said of the Cross Vegas scene. “The American people they are yelling, they are shouting, so I think it will be nice to have the world’s here in America.”
Sept. 19, 2012
1. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus)
2. Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
3. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement)
1. Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank)
2. Leah Davison (Specialized)
3. Alison Powers (Now & Novartis for MS)