LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) swept the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross weekend in Louisville, soloing to victory on Sunday in Round 2 of the Derby City Cup.
Powers and Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) were off the front with four laps to go, chased by Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), and it looked like the big Belgian might be able to give the U.S. national champion a run for his money.
But Powers finally rid himself of the Raleigh rider and took a commanding victory in Eva Bandman Park.
Behind, Berden found himself in a Cannondale sandwich with Trebon and teammate Tim Johnson, but he escaped their embrace in the finale to take second behind Powers. Johnson hung on for third with Trebon fourth.
"It was a hard day of racing," said Powers, who called the course "world-championship material."
"The sand was definitely difficult today," he added. "This is one of the harder courses we've had here at Eva Bandman."
Berden got the holeshot, but a determined Johnson took charge going onto the flyover, with Danny Summerhill -- inexplicably wearing his Garmin-First Solar kit instead of UnitedHealthcare garb -- sitting third.
Powers slipped into the mix going into the sand pit, and Summerhill and Johnson led through the start-finish into Lap 2, heading a front group that included the U.S. champ, Trebon and Chris Jones (Rapha).
The group ballooned to 11 going into the flyover, and Jones took the front with Summerhill, Johnson and Trebon lined up behind. Jones and Johnson took a little lead over the others, but it didn't last -- there was a seven-man group rolling through the start-finish and into Lap 3, with Berden back on board and Zach McDonald (Rapha) about to make contact.
The lead group stayed intact until Powers committed a rare bobble while riding the limestone stairs. Trebon drove forward, with Berden on his wheel, and Powers recovered to bounce back into third. The three put some daylight between themselves and the others and were well away as they rolled through the start-finish.
Headed into four laps to go, Powers led Berden with Trebon dangling a few seconds off the back. The U.S. champ was really working the corners, trying to shed Berden, but the Belgian hung tough until their next trip up the limestone stairs, when Powers finally got a small gap.
With three laps remaining Powers was alone and extending his advantage, but Berden was not waving the white flag just yet. Up and over the flyover, riding the limestone stairs, Powers held only a handful of seconds over his Raleigh rival.
Powers was still alone with two laps to go, but Trebon had overtaken Berden and the two were perhaps 10 seconds down on the race leader, with a resurgent Johnson fighting to rejoin them. By the bell lap, Powers was long gone, and Johnson latched back on as Trebon and Berden rolled through the start-finish, forging a three-man fight for second that could have spelled trouble for Berden.
Or maybe not. Berden and Johnson hit the finishing straight together, but the Belgian had the edge in their sprint for second, while Trebon rolled in for fourth.
Johnson was clearly happy with getting back on a podium -- especially at the venue that will host the world cyclocross championships come February.
"I think today was an easier setup. I felt a lot better today," he said.
Powers begged to differ. "Both courses were very challenging. They were both hard in their own right," he said.
Asked what was next on the agenda, Powers said he would take a bit of a break and then head back to Europe to rejoin the World Cup series, which resumes Nov. 24 in Koksijde, Belgium.
In the States, the USGP concludes Dec. 8-9 with the Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Ore.
Compton doubles up
In the women's event, it was a rerun of the Katie Compton show, with an identical podium to Saturday's race.
"Today I was just riding so I could attack different sections of the course and thinking about world championships," Compton said. She explained that she was trying to work out her strategy and discover "where I could attack and where I would need to recover and push in certain sections."
British champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) took the holeshot on a rearranged, windswept Derby City Cup course, but the U.S. champ soon took over, pursued by Luna teammates Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould.
Compton and Nash both rode through the Clif Bar Sand Land on Lap 1, which went the opposite direction than Saturday's race, meaning the lead-in was uphill and far fewer riders were able to make it through cleanly. Wyman wasn't able to ride it on the first lap, and the leaders were able to pull away, gaining eight seconds on Wyman by the end of the first lap.
Nash stuck with her Trek Cyclocross Collective rival for the first couple of laps, but after that it was a one-woman race. Compton had five seconds on Nash by the time they were through the Clif Bar Sand Land and her lead grew from there.
Gould caught and passed Wyman, carrying a rubber chicken and $20 bill in her left hand. Rapha-Focus rider Gabby Day chased the lead four, about 15 seconds ahead of Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com). Stetson-Lee caught up to Day and made the pass on the limestone stairs, but the pair stayed together.
With two to go, Compton had a commanding lead, more than 20 seconds, with Gould a further dozen seconds down and Wyman just behind. Going into bell lap, Compton had added another 10 seconds to her advantage over Nash, but she wasn't slowing down. The Trek rider kept powering around the course to victory, coming in at 40:30, punching both fists skyward at the line.
Nash followed for second, 1:04 down more than a minute down, while Gould held off Wyman for third, 1:28 down on Compton. Day rounded out the top five.