Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nash Pulls Closer, Johnson Takes USGP Lead

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 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
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/ 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.

USGP Portland Cup Day 1 Results

(click on images for larger versions)

Day 1 Women's Podium: Rachel Loyd, Katerina Nash, Georgia Gould.

Day 1 Men's Podium: Jeremy Powers, Tim Johnson, Ryan Trebon.

1. Katerina Nash (Luna)
2. Georgia Gould (Luna)
3. Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
4. Sue Butler (Monavie/
5. Wendy Simms (Velo Bella/Kona)

1. Tim Johnson (
2. Jeremy Powers (
3. Ryan Trebon (Kona)
4. Jesse Anthony (Jamis)
5. Todd Wells (GT Bicycles)


Friday, December 5, 2008

Top pros, Portland tifosi ready for USGP showdown

When the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross returns this weekend to Portland International Raceway -- the scene of 2007’s epic finale, when snow, rain and heavy winds battered spectators and riders alike -- you can be sure of only a few things: Mud will fly, beer will be spilled and the series winners will eventually be crowned.

But everything else is up for grabs Saturday and Sunday at the 2008 Portland Cup presented by Stanley, the finale of the three-weekend, six-race series that started Oct. 25-26 in Kentucky.

This time around, the racing is expected to be equally fierce, but the weather should be a little less so, according to KOIN Local 6 meteorologist Bruce Sussman.

“It's going to be a lot drier than last year,” Sussman said. “In fact, Saturday looks dry. Then on Sunday a system from the north will bring some rain at times, but nothing major.”

Fans of the deep mud can hope for a downpour Sunday, Sussman added, but he’s not expecting it.

The course at Portland International Raceway — featured in both the 2007 USGP and the 2004 national championships — includes plenty of trees and roots, and can become quite difficult in foul weather. Brad Ross, promoter of Oregon’s eight-race Cross Crusade series and the USGP’s local organizer, said Berms from a motocross track at the venue may be used as run-ups.

“It’s kind of ‘rolly,’” he said. “It’s not a super physically demanding course with huge climbs or anything. But if it gets muddy it will get very difficult. The pro men and pro women can handle whatever we throw at them. The mud out there, there’s no clay in it. It’s nice mud. You kind of slice through it. It’s not the kind of mud that piles up on your bike and makes it weigh 100 pounds.”


After starting things off with a modest third-place finish on Day 1 of the opening weekend in Kentucky, last year’s elite women’s USGP champion Georgia Gould (Luna) has looked unstoppable in her quest to repeat, racking up three consecutive wins coming into the Portland finale.

Nevertheless, she isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I’m feeling good, and I’ve been racing well,” Gould said. “But I never like to be overconfident. I have a really strong teammate, and there are a lot of other strong women in the field. I’ve found that it’s best not to count anybody out.”

Indeed, Gould's teammate Katerina Nash has been her toughest competition. She finished in the top spot on Day 1 in Kentucky, but has had to settle for second the past three races.

Gould said she and Nash work well together.

“Katerina and I, we race together a lot,” she said. “We are pretty similar in fitness, which is an advantage. We can ride together, and if we do manage to get off the front together, it’s sort of everyone for themselves then. Once you finish racing everyone else, then you’ve got to race each other.”

Under the best-five-of-six scoring system that will determine the series winner, Nash could pull off the overall win — but she’ll need some help. if she wins both races and Gould finishes second the Luna pair will be tied. To win outright, Nash has to win both races and then hope Rachel Loyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), Mo Bruno-Roy (MM Racing/Seven Cycles), Sue Butler (Monavie/ or Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella/Kona) can bump her Luna teammate into third place or worse.


Forecasts for relatively mild weekend weather didn’t necessarily please current national champion Tim Johnson (, who’s sitting third overall in the Elite men’s series behind Todd Wells (GT Bicycles) and Jeremy Powers (

“I like it nasty,” said the Massachusetts native who’s known for his ability to conquer the deepest muck.

Johnson won Day 2 of the series-opening weekend in Kentucky and claimed the overall lead three weeks later with a win on Day 1 in Mercer, New Jersey. But he quickly lost that lead to Day 2 winner Wells when he was unable to start because of bruised knee suffered in the previous day’s win.

Now, he says, the knee is ready to go.

“It’s much better,” Johnson said. “I’ve been riding and training on it recently. It’s a bone bruise, so the pain sticks around a little longer but the damage is already done. It’s just up to me to deal with it.”

Johnson said his hopes for an overall win are buoyed by the series points system, which scores the final overall results on the best five finishes out of the six races. If you look at the series leaders' best three scores out of the past four races, Johnson is leading Wells by three points and Powers by 21.

“Hopefully I can keep things going this weekend,” he said. “I still have a chance if I have two very good days. I can hope for Todd or Jeremy to have a tough day. But Todd is an Olympian and Jeremy is my teammate, so I’m not counting on that. It’s up to me to have a couple of good days.”

Johnson said he also isn’t counting out last year’s USGP overall winner, local favorite Ryan Trebon (Kona). The Bend resident won last year’s finale in Portland despite snow and brutal winds.

“Ryan is one of the most dynamic riders in the states,” Johnson said. “It all depends on whether Super Ryan shows up or just normal, human Ryan.”

And which of the "two" Ryans does Trebon expect to appear this weekend?

"I've been training a lot," he said. "More so to get ready for nationals and then I'm headed over to Europe. But I still think I can do a good race this weekend. I really would be disappointed to not win the series again. But I pretty much have to race to win both days to lock it up."

The Kona rider said he believes the comparatively dry conditions might give him an edge over Johnson, whose knee problem makes him something of an unknown quantity.

"It'll be a pretty big change from the last 400 years of Portland weather to be dry in December," he said. "It will make the race faster, which tends to favor me a little more. But who knows? I've never really ridden that course when it's dry.

"Todd's racing really well right now. With Tim being injured, I don't really know how well he'll be able to ride. Jeremy's been doing some pretty consistent races also. I think Todd will probably be the one I'll be looking out for most this weekend."

Trebon said a win means a lot to the team.

"It will be interesting if we (Kona) don't win," Trebon said. "I think it's been me or Barry (Wicks) who have won the race the last four years. Nobody else has won it but us. But that's a tall order to keep winning."

Meanwhile, Powers said he’s looking forward to his teammate Johnson’s return to the series, adding that his main goal for the weekend is to beat Wells, the overall leader.

“The gloves are definitely going to be off. Everyone, Ryan and Tim, are going to be going for it,” he said. “Most of all, I’d just like to have a strong weekend and put some finishing touches on my form for the nationals.”

But it’s Wells – a two-time cyclocross national champion who climbed into the series lead for the first time in his career after finishing second on Day 1 in Mercer and a win on Day 2 – who leads coming into the final weekend, placing the seasoned GT rider squarely in the driver’s seat to win the series.


Local promoter Ross said he expects the “usual suspects” from Portland’s cross-crazy fan base to show up in force.

“It’s going to be more typical cyclocross weather, maybe a little rainy,” he said. “That doesn’t scare people away. What scares people away is when it’s like it was last year – hurricane! It’s going to be a good party. The beer will be flowing. This race has a little bit more of a hype and visibility level than Cross Crusade because of the top pros being here and the advertising we’ve done.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are you rrrready to RRRRRumble?!!

This video action from last year's Toyota Portland Cup, the last stop on the Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, may help you get prepared for this weekend's version Dec. 6 and 7 at Portland International Raceway.

Spanish cops stop Horner for no helmet


Professional cyclist Chris Horner had a brief encounter Tuesday with Spanish police over his choice of headwear, or lack thereof, while training on the Canary Islands.

The Associated Press reported that Horner, a Bend, Ore., resident who rides in Europe for Lance Armstrong's Astana team, was training with the seven-time Tour de France winner and the rest of the squad when a police cruiser pulled over the pack of riders.

After a routine identification check on Horner, the team pedaled away. Horner kept riding without a helmet because professional cyclists are not required to wear one in Spain.

The weeklong team training camp opened Sunday.