Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) blazed through the 2012 domestic 'cross season, racking up win after win at UCI C1 races. He won the overall series title at the Trek USGP of Cyclocross without having to contest the final two races. He has hovered around the 10th in the UCI's cyclocross rankings all season long. He looked to be on better form than he did last year when he took his first national title in Madison, Wis. And with a seventh place at the Tabor World Cup, a best-ever result for an American male, Powers has been having a season to remember.
As for his performance Sunday at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Verona, Wis., it's a race he'd just as soon forget, and he is turning the page as he prepares for the UCI elite world championships Feb. 3 in Louisville, Ky.
On Monday VeloNews caught up with Powers, who had already flown from Wisconsin to Louisville to get ready for his assault on the world stage.
So, what happened yesterday?
Honestly, I don't really know. Everything leading up to the race went really well. I honestly don't have an answer for you or myself at the moment. Sometimes that's the unfortunate thing in bike racing when you do a lot of things but still aren't able to answer that question right now. It was very frustrating for me. I did everything I wanted to do this year; I felt like I wanted that the most [the national title] and I failed at getting it, and I'm for sure disappointed. I worked my butt off. I wouldn't do anything differently to prepare for it; I just wish it had gone differently. I didn't ride a flawless race yesterday; I was off line, I wasn't hitting everything perfectly. I thought I was doing well and then, as I tried to come back in Laps 2 and 3, I wasn't coming back fast enough and I said to myself, 'Wow, this is the way it's going to go.' There's nothing really more to say. People were riding faster than I was and I couldn't do anything about it and that hasn't happened to me this year yet.
Have you ever ridden in conditions like that before?
It was pretty rutted. I can't remember a race we've done like that. Last year [in Madison], there were frozen ruts that got pretty deep on the top, but it just dried out much faster last year; there was more space. This year was more like a singletrack race with a lot of grease on it. It was almost the perfect course for [teammate] Zach [McDonald]. For me though, I just wasn't in the race. I didn't have an impact.
You sound very frustrated.
I'm better today already. One thing I really have to tell myself is that I tried so hard to do more than I have ever done before with that [national champion's] jersey. For me, that meant going to Europe this year a bunch of times. The racing and training to try and be the best I could be at the world level. And it's new, trying to fly to World Cups in Europe, then fly back and do well in U.S. races, then training camps. I had a lot of firsts, and while I did try to do every little thing I could possibly do to control to make this race go well, and the race in Louisville go well, it's a little bit back to basics for me. I know what's worked before and I have to backpedal a little bit and try and understand how to get back.
Are you the type of rider that feeds off frustration, or do you just want to forget about this race and move on?
The motivation is there. There's some determination [to move on] because things didn't go well, but I'm not a rider that rides off anger. I am definitely really excited for Louisville and want to have a really good race in Cincinnati. I know where I'm at. I'll rebuild from yesterday and that doesn't make it easier. It just is what it is. I just wish there were just more races so I could really showcase the form I have.