Philosophers like to say that money is the root of all evil. But if you asked Ryan Trebon about that today, he'd probably tell you the root of all evil is at Portland International Raceway.
On a course that was mostly dry and very fast, Oregon's 6'5" Kona pro -- nicknamed "Tree Farm" -- took a header over a tree root in the last half lap of Saturday's Race #5 of the Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclocross. The slip may have cost Trebon the series.
After struggling all day in a two-on-one battle with the Cyclocrossworld.com/Cannondale dynamic duo of Jeremy Powers and national champion Tim Johnson, Trebon moved to the front on the last lap and started to wind up his finishing effort.
But he misjudged a hairpin curve nearing the final, paved finish-line stretch and slid out on an exposed tree root. Powers, trailing immediately behind, piled on.
Johnson, who managed to avoid the mess altogether, seized the opportunity and opened up enough of a lead to coast comfortably across the line for the win. Meanwhile, Powers was first back on the bike after the mash-up and cruised in for second, just ahead of a disappointed Trebon.
"We were going into one of those last 180s," Trebon said of his fall. "I picked a line to go on the inside. We were going pretty slow, I wasn't paying attention and I hit a root. I just kind of washed out and Jeremy fell over of me. Then I slid out again in the left-hand 180 right after the second pit."
Powers, who started the day second overall in the series behind Todd Wells and in front of Johnson, his teammate, also may have seen his chances for a series win go down when he fell over Trebon.
"That could have happened to any of us," Powers said. "It's so close to the end of the race, it's like, 'Oh, why is this happening right now,' but that's just racing and there's really nothing you can do about that. You're just out there giving 100 percent."
Johnson, the benefactor of the others' bad luck, said he was looking to set up Powers for the sprint before they fell.
"Jeremy has a really good finishing kick," he said. "So I wanted to make sure I got him onto the pavement in good position. So going into the last half lap I was going to get on the front and drill it as hard as I could. Right when I went inside Ryan slipped out and I got a little gap. That's all I needed."
Todd Wells, who was leading the series after winning Day 2 in Mercer, New Jersey, couldn't hang with Trebon, Johnson and Powers on the fast, dry course, about a third of which was paved. After a bad start Wells finished off the pace in fifth.
Johnson now leads the series with 173 points. Powers and Wells are right behind with 172 points each. Trebon is in fourth with 141 points. Jesse Anthony is in fifth with 136.
The series overall standings will be scored on a best-five-of-six system, and Johnson and Trebon have already dropped one score because of missed races, which means Johnson's one-point series lead over Wells and Powers is actually quite a bit larger than it appears.
Powers pushed the pace early and often, tearing apart the field and shedding everyone but Trebon and Johnson.
Wells, wearing the white jersey of the overall series leader, had a bobble at the start but fought his way to fifth. He ended up losing the jersey to Johnson.
Trebon couldn't escape the the Cyclocrossworld.com/
Cannondale one-two punch of Johnson and Powers.
Sporting the stars and stripes kit of the national champion, Johnson stayed in contact and capitalized when Trebon and Powers went down on the last half lap.
Gould Going For Repeat, But Nash Not Out
In the Elite women's race, series leader Georgia Gould (Luna) joined teammate and runner-up Katerina Nash, Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), Sue Butler (Monavie/Cannondale.com) and Wendy Simms (Kona) to form a five-up group that quickly pulled away from the rest of the field.
Butler and Winfield soon fell off the pace and battled each other all the way to the finish, leaving Lloyd to fend off the two Luna riders on her own. The three riders swapped leads at the front, with Nash and Lloyd seemingly pushing the pace.
Lloyd had no answer when Nash attacked on the last lap. Gould let her teammate ride away to a comfortable win and then polished off Lloyd at the finish by a handful of seconds.
Gould, who won the 2007 series, leads the overall this year with 234 points. Nash is solidly in second with 210. Lloyd remains in third with 172 points, while Butler moved up to fourth with 121.
Under the best-five-of-six scoring system that will determine the series winner, Nash could pull off the overall win from her teammate — but she’ll need some help. She has to win again Sunday and then hope another rider can knock her teammate into third or worse. If the race finishes Sunday with Nash and Gould in first and second, respectively, the Luna pair will be tied on points.
Nash rode at the front for most of the race and was rewarded with a Day 1 win.
Georgia Gould rode to a cool second and kept her series lead.
Lloyd tried pushing the pace but couldn't shed Nash or Gould from the exclusive group.
Butler initially made the lead group but had to settle for fourth.
Simms battled Butler but ended up fifth.