Jeremy Powers is not known as a calm person. He’s usually bursting with energy but in the moments before the start of the day’s race he has a quiet edge to him. He does crack a few jokes outside the roll-up door of a warehouse where the Rapha-FOCUS team has stationed their temporary service course looking pleased as punch. It is the at-ease-confidence of someone who knows what is about to happen. Certainly he should, considering he has spent more time on this course than all but a few of the local Boulder hard core. Shortly after the holidays, Powers relocated to nearby Louisville, CO, and started riding the course day in and day out in preparation for this very day — the 2014 USA Cyclocross National Championship.
The moment is here and it is hard not to make comparisons to Katie Compton (Trek) who, minutes before, handily won her tenth national title. It is hard not to make these comparisons because, up until this point, Jeremy Powers was duking it out with the best riders in North America and regularly coming out on top. The Elite Men’s field lined up in their usual fashion minus a few riders from Canada and Belgium who regularly race in the US. This was a day for the Americans just as many others were home vying for their national championships. Call ups based on season ranking brought riders to their spots in the starting grid, with some seeing the front row for the very first time, and they stood looking towards that first corner for a short few quiet moments.
Then the start gun went off.
This is the point where we talk about the differences between just another national championship race and Jeremy Powers stepping up to win his second National Title.
It took about a quarter of a lap for the race to be decided and it was more from the look on Jeremy Powers face than anything else. A determination so palpable that it made you take a step back from the course tape. Late into the first lap, Cannondale rider Ryan Trebon bridged the space between the two of them. These riders had made their move from the main field and from there it was up to them to turn this race into the cat and mouse game that we have seen from these two before. But on this day there would be little doubt as to who was in control.
With a renewed sense of urgency after Trebon’s reconnection, Jeremy once again rode away from this single chaser and the entire Elite Men’s field. There is something different about him this time- That look on his face? A particular way he has settled onto his bike? Maybe a shift in the saddle? The difference is that this time it is a confidence unlike any we’ve seen in Jeremy Powers and he will go on to handily win his second National Championship title and jersey. It is then that those moments before the race spring back to mind. There, calmly sitting with his new wife Emily in the warehouse away from the course, away from his fans, Jeremy Powers had this same look on his face — something close to contentment. After all, the sun is always shining in Boulder, Colorado.
Jeremy Powers will go on to represent the United States at the World Championship of Cyclocross in Hoogerheide, Netherlands two weeks from now. He will be joined by his teammate Zach McDonald on the Worlds team who will now race as an Elite.