Field Notes: Cross Vegas

Gone were the arid conditions that make up that cyclocross race in the desert called Cross Vegas. A surprisingly cool night settled over the ‘City of Lost Wages’ last Wednesday as the best in the bicycle industry gathered to line the course. There’s no better way for the good men and women of the bicycle industry to unwind after a day under the stale lights of Interbike.

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The Elite Women’s field was the first of the evening’s main events. The kit selection was generally the same apart from a few changes in teams and sponsors. This race continues to serve as a space for racers and sponsors alike to roll out their new wares. Both Gabby Durrin (Neon Velo) and Meredith Miller (Noosa Yoghurt) — contenders in their own right — sported new clothing to the start line.

However, once the racing was underway it seemed to be more of the same — the stars and stripes jersey of National Champion Katie Compton were off in their familiar fever pitch. But wait. Could it be? With attacks from fan favorite Katerina Nash and her LUNA teammate — newly crowned Cross Country Mountain Bike World Champion Catherine Pendrel — the sharp end of the race was the excitement that the neon lights of Vegas demanded. Then a crash, a split in the field and Nash, Miller and Compton were away for the remainder of the race.

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Surprise came in the final meters when Meredith Miller, a once renowned road sprinter, took advantage of those skills and sprung ahead of Nash and Compton for the win. She was all smiles and thrust her fist in the air for the well deserve win of the evening.

The Elite Men’s race was a thing of patience and beauty. Each nation that was represented took a turn at the front in something akin to a UN Summit. Even the nation of Boulder, Colorado let their promising young racer, Allen Krughoff, light up the action at the front of the race. But when it came down to business, the Euro Pro’s were just too good…

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As the lap counter started to dwindle, the speeds at the front of the race started to pick up. The fresh-faced American stars of our favorite sport were removed from the action. Except for one man.

If Jeremy Powers has learned anything in the past few years racing with his European counterparts it is that patience pays off. Well, that, and waiting long enough to be the instigator himself. With three laps to go Powers charged up and over the slight rise in the final straightaway across the finish and eliminated all but former World Champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) and last year’s World Cup overall winner Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano). From there it was up to the two Europeans to put their heads down (presumably to avoid the spraying beer) and make it their race.

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In the end Nys would take his second Cross Vegas win while Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) would bring home the bronze medal, wow the fans of cyclocross and at the same time debut his new team livery (designed by guess who) for the season.

If this is to be our indicator for the season to come, it is a going to be a great one. With a new team — Aspire Racing — and a fresh National Championship jersey to get muddy, the time is right for Jeremy Powers to continue his dominance and growth in the sport of cyclocross.

Read more about the 2014 Rapha Cross season »