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A well-prepared Jeremy Powers regains U.S. cyclocross championship title in Boulder

January 16, 2014
Jeremy Powers right after the effort to pass Shawn Milne and take the opening hill in first position

Jeremy Powers right after the effort to pass Shawn Milne and take the opening hill in first position

“One thing I learned quite quickly is that pressure and race anxiety is felt by the unprepared. When you are as well prepared as anybody out there, there is no point in being stressed out; just control what you can control.” — Erin Hartwell, U.S. Olympian track cyclist

Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) took back the stars and stripes at the 2014 cyclocross national championships by riding a completely different race from his last outing with the nationals favorites at Valmont Bike Park and carrying out pre-event preparation that left almost nothing to chance.

Three months ago Powers approached the Boulder Cup at Valmont conservatively, attacking only on the final lap and taking advantage of others’ mistakes to win. He said then that he didn’t want to risk going too hard at altitude. So he carefully measured out his efforts.

In the beginning of lap 2 only Trebon could hang with Powers, with the next rider 15 seconds back

In the beginning of lap 2 only Trebon could hang with Powers, with the next rider 15 seconds back

At nationals on Sunday he turned that plan upside down, scoring the holeshot and then driving into first position at the top of the circuit’s initial hill. His speed took Ryan Trebon (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com) by surprise. “I thought it would be a hard final twenty minutes, but Jeremy went from the start, and I had to suffer,” Trebon told the media.

The elevation in Boulder hadn’t changed. But it appeared something had changed in Powers.

He arrived in Boulder the day after Christmas, sixteen days prior to the nationals elite race. Powers, who is from Massachusetts, indicated he felt stronger for his time at 5,400 feet (1,646 meters).

“Today was a great day. I had great legs,” he said after becoming champion again. “Colorado treated me right. Being here early was the right decision. I was able to push and push and push. I never felt like I was out of oxygen.”

Possibly Powers developed increased oxygen efficiency over two weeks at altitude. But if, as research indicates, that wasn’t enough time to create a real physiological boost, how is it Powers appeared and felt more effortless on course than the others?

Perhaps he breathed easily because he gained a psychological edge from dedicating himself to two weeks of pre-race preparation. An edge that reinforced his mental game. Training on Boulder roads and pre-riding the nationals course from the earliest opportunity signified a commitment to produce his best race which translated into performance. When he got to the start line he could fire it up from the gun and push even harder on the first hill because he believed he could dig deeper. Because he was ready.

Probably Powers’ preparation for nationals extends back to the evening of last year’s championship event where passed on the laurels to Jonathan Page. Powers wanted to reclaim the title this year “Pretty bad,” he told ProVéloPassion on Sunday. “I felt like last year I definitely came up short on my own expectations…”

In 2013 he came to Madison tired. He rode like he towed a mechanic’s toolbox off the back of his bike, finishing sixth and three minutes off the winning pace.

This season he adjusted his game plan to arrive at his best later in the season for nationals. And it worked.

Jeremy Powers wins 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross national championship elite race

Jeremy Powers wins 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross national championship elite race

But he’s not taking full credit for pulling on a kit next season that includes red, white, and blue on more than just the collar.

“…I feel like, any time you are able to win a national championship there are so many things that go into it,” he said on Sunday. “So to win today, it’s not just my win. It’s for a lot of people. Every single one of my family members is here and to be able to do that in front of them, it’s a lifetime of work.”

Stay tuned for more nationals photos and comments from Colorado-based riders Danny Summerhill, Allen Krughoff, and Brady Kappius.

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From → Cyclocross

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