Jeremy Powers represented the 2012 US National Champion jersey well. So well, in fact, that he was thought by many experts and non-experts to be an even bet for a repeat performance in 2013. However, nothing is ever certain in cross racing and results played out differently on the national championship course on that cold, blustery day. Ahead of the Worlds in Louisville, Kentucky – the first time the climax to the cross calendar has been held outside the EU – I spoke to Mr. Powers about the next phase of the season.
“Yeah, Nationals. I was hoping for that to be a day to remember. And I guess in a way it will be. I just forgot to to have fun. For the two or three days before I totally got in my own head about it: About the pressures surrounding it and what it would mean to be in that jersey again this year. But, I guess you have to remember that you’re never too good to make an honest mistake.”
Jeremy made the choice to eschew a few weeks at home with loved ones to spend some much needed time near the course. He rented a scooter to do some motor pacing and has spent nearly every day there, looking at lines, riding the course and envisioning what is going to take place. This is where he can take the time to test out different tire choices, pressures, corners and everything that the Louisville course has to offer.
“So, far, it has just been fast fast fast and that is something that the European guys do not see often. It is a very US style course, and we know it because we have been here a few times before. Where the 2012 Worlds track was very specific to the Belgian style of racing, this one is not. But, they [the Belgians] have proved me wrong before.”
Tom Hopper shows off the Rapha “Workshop Apron –>”:http://www.rapha.cc/workshop-apron
Right Hand man
The other ace up Jeremy’s red white and blue sleeve is his mechanic. Tom Hopper was someone who was continually recommended to him at the beginning of last year.
“Basically I was looking for someone as Type A as Stu [Thorne head mechanic and owner of Cannondale Cyclocross World] and everyone kept saying ‘you gotta talk to this guy.’ Tom and I are similar in age and have never had a real disagreement about anything on the race course. And as far as preparations go, I know that everything on each bike is going to be exactly the same. Which is a big deal in cyclocross.”
“You need to be confident in your mechanic. You need to know you can hand something off at the pit and say ‘less pressure’ or ‘tire change’ or whatever it is and that the two of you are thinking on the same wavelength. We are on that same wavelength and have a really confident relationship.”
Europeans on American Soil
Speaking of the ‘Belgian Brigade’ as Powers has taken to calling them (referring to last year’s World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium where 8 of the top 10 riders were Belgian): This will be the first time that they have raced the Championships outside of Europe and that is a fact that should be duly noted.
Rumor has it that current World Champion Niels Albert has already experienced some of the travel pains that are normally only associated with the US riders heading ‘over there’. Apparently Albert lost some of his World Champion Colnago bicycles in transit to the warm up race in Cincinnati, Ohio. Have the tables ever so slightly turned to give some other countries that much desired home advantage?
“I don’t know, maybe,” states Powers, “but I don’t wish them any bad luck, and I hope that the strongest guy wins. If that happens to be an American, that’s all the better.”
After the party is the after-party
So what’s next after Worlds? It is not going to be all Champagne and bubble baths for our hero. At least not yet. Directly after finishing the World Championships in Louisville, Jeremy and Sam Smith, his director in the Behind the Barriers video series, will head over to Japan to finish out the season at Tokyo Cross.
“This is going to be a great place for us to wrap up the season of Behind The Barriers and wind down from the cross season. It sounds like they have a lot planned for us over in Japan, so we are looking forward to checking out their scene.”
However, directly off the race course in Louisville there was another party that was mentioned…
What is the Louisville 2013 Foam Party?
“Ha. I’m not sure what that is actually, but they have asked me to DJ for it. And I said, well, I didn’t officially say yes, but I didn’t say no either. It all kind of depends on how the racing goes. How I’m feeling after the race is over.”
And as I tell him that they are using a photo of him in the shower as their Twitter avatar (@LV2013Foamparty he fires back with a quote that could be directly applied to all of this: the National Championships, the preparation, the racing, the Djing and Behind the Barriers.
“I put myself out there. I deserve whatever I get.”
The 2013 World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky will be broadcast live on the internet next weekend February 2nd and 3rd. Cyclocross Magazine has the details and a handle on all the updates coming through the wire. Rapha North America will be on site to follow along with all the racing action.