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Powers and Krughoff one – two at KickIt Cross as national champion trains in Colorado

September 9, 2014

 

Jeremy Powers zips up for victory salute at KickIt Cross

Jeremy Powers zips up for victory salute at KickIt Cross

[updated 9/10/2014]

Sunday, September 7 was a hot day for a hard effort at the first all-day cyclocross event on the Front Range, KickIt Cross.

Streaks of white evaporated sweat trailed down the sides of Jeremy Powers’ face. He’d won the men’s elite race ten minutes earlier with Allen Krughoff in heated pursuit. Nearby at the Rhyolite Park venue in Castle Rock, Colorado, Krughoff pressed a hand on his helmet; streams of sweat spilled out of the pads and onto the pavement.

Krughoff, riding for his new Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team, finished a very solid second ahead of Raleigh-Clement’s Ben Berden.

All three intend to start Cross Vegas tomorrow. KickIt provided important preparation for the national event.

“I don’t want a first race to be Vegas,” Powers said after his Colorado win. Like Krughoff, the national champion begins the season with a new team, although the Aspire Racing kit and bike were still under wraps on Sunday with their debut set for Cross Vegas. For this season, Aspire Racing consists solely of Powers. He’s mentioned previously that the team could grow for the 2015/16 season.

Powers has been in Colorado for about two weeks, but not on vacation. With his annual FasCat Coaching camp scheduled for the last weekend of August and the Boulder UCI races in mid-September, he decided to fashion a training block in Colorado combined with preparing new equipment for the season together with mechanic Tom Hopper who lives near Boulder. The Castle Rock race fit in nicely between the camp and UCI events.

“If you’re going to do the races at altitude and be good at them – like nationals for instance, I need at least two weeks [at altitude],” Powers said. The Colorado plan turned out well. “It’s been successful and fun. The altitude training works for me so it is a good lead-in for my season for sure.”

Early lap leaders' group of four: Allen Krughoff, Tim Allen, Jeremy Powers, Ben Berden

Early lap leaders’ group of four: Allen Krughoff, Tim Allen, Jeremy Powers, Ben Berden

KickIt allowed both men to test new equipment, and for Krughoff also a chance to work with a new mechanic and pit partner in the race environment.

Powers said he’s racing on an all new bike; the only components that remain the same from last season are the saddle and pedals.

“I always want to do one [race] before Vegas to get any cobwebs out,” he said.

“It’s always weird how things work out on the bike. At first when you are just training [it’s working], then when you are racing you are like, ‘I need to make this change or that change.’”

Focus Mares will carry riders for both the Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team and Aspire Racing this season. While Krughoff rode on his new model prior to KickIt, he came to the race with a newly assembled bike with SRAM CX-1 and ENVE tubular disc through axle wheels. During pre-ride he experienced a special moment at the barriers.

“I pick up the bike and it feels like I’m lifting nothing,” Krughoff stated. “It’s unreal… and I’m thinking, ‘this is going to be a great year.’”

Race action

That fast feeling carried over to the start of the KickIt men’s elite race. Krughoff won the holeshot. A lead group formed early in the first lap with the Noosa rider at the front. It included Powers, Berden, and the current single speed national champion, Feedback Sports’ Tim Allen (not riding single speed).

Tim Allen hops, Spencer Powlison runs

Tim Allen hops, Spencer Powlison runs

In lap two or three Allen dropped back to join Spencer Powlison (Evol Racing). Krughoff guided the lead group of three for four laps while Powers and Berden appeared satisfied matching the Colorado rider’s pace.

When Krughoff made a bike change Powers decided to test the results of his altitude training; he surged into the lead, soon opening a ten second gap over Berden and Krughoff. The Noosa rider regained and held onto second place until the finish. Berden lost ground to the pair as the race concluded, but not enough to forfeit third place.

After sixty minutes of racing the national champ won with a 22 second advance. Next to arrive after the top three were Allen, Powlison, Steven Stefko (First City Cycling Team), and Evol Racing’s Ken Benesh. Stefko topped off a strong year in January with third place in the masters 35 – 39 category at ‘cross nationals in Boulder.

Krughoff was content with the overall results from the day – testing fitness, a well-run first outing for the team that included a victory for Meredith Miller, and holding position behind Powers.

“That was confirmation that the fitness is here,” the Noosa rider said about his effort. “From here we have three days ‘till Vegas, and then it’s Boulder. So we’re on. There’s no time to get in better shape. So it’s good.” The US Open of Cyclocross (formerly the Colorado Cross Classic) and the Boulder Cup, Colorado’s two big UCI cyclocross races, occur on September 13 and 14 in Boulder.

Krughoff became Colorado state champion at the same Rhyolite Park venue last December. He likes the terrain there, even though he thought the day’s bumpy riding had contributed to blisters on his hands.

“I really like racing here because they have a lot of elevation to work with. It’s not just one hillside. It’s like a whole valley and John Haley does a really good job laying out the course.

“It’s fun. He changed it up a little bit with this option to go through barriers or go around them. I think it’s cool when people think outside the box. We can use some more of that.”

Vegas bound

He should face an interesting challenge at Cross Vegas, which is adding a sandpit that riders will traverse twice each lap. That’s in addition to last year’s banked curve, stairs, barriers and flyovers. Krughoff placed 19th at the Vegas event in 2013; based on his fitness, he could improve on that this year if that’s his plan.

Jeremy Powers will wear a different Aspire Racing kit at Cross Vegas

Jeremy Powers will wear a different Aspire Racing kit at Cross Vegas

Powers won in Sin City two years ago; last year he placed second to Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony, now Crelan-AA Drink).

“If I can be up in the front and I can have a shot at it that would be excellent,” he said.

It’s hard to tell how things will shake out at the beginning of the cyclocross calendar; a large unknown is the form competitors will carry to Vegas.

“And with [Lars] Van der Haar and Sven Nys coming it’s definitely a good opportunity for me to showcase. So I hope that I am able to, especially being in the national champ’s jersey.”

For full results from KickIt Cross, visit the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website.

Men's elite podium (l-r): Spencer Powlison 5th, Allen Krughoff 2nd, Jeremy Powers 1st, Ben Berden 3rd, Tim Allen 4th

Men’s elite podium (l-r): Spencer Powlison 5th, Allen Krughoff 2nd, Jeremy Powers 1st, Ben Berden 3rd, Tim Allen 4th

Gallery (from multiple men’s races) – Video to come

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