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Ryan Trebon finds himself this cyclocross season having jumped straight into the lion’s den. Riding as a lone ranger in 2011-12 with mechanic/manager Dusty Labarr under the pair’s LTS-Felt moniker (LTS stood for Labarr Trebon Sports), Trebon was on par with his best seasons when he was healthy, but a leg injury suffered at the Derby City Cup in November put him out of commission for more than a month.
A year on, Trebon and Labarr have made the move to Stu Thorne’s Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com juggernaut where Trebon is riding alongside Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll — two men he battled week-in and week-out for half-a-decade. The move is paying off for the tall Oregonian, who won on Sunday at the Great Brewers’ Gran Prix of Gloucester and finished second to cross-country worlds silver medalist Lukas Flückiger a week earlier in the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Planet Bike Cup.
Trebon is in Providence, Rhode Island, on the eve of the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival and spoke with VeloNews about coming into the season overtrained, changes with his new squad and the growth of cyclocross as a sponsor-friendly discipline.
VeloNews: How have you felt at the beginning of this season?
Ryan Trebon: I feel pretty good. I think I kind of started the season a little bit over-trained and under-rested. My finish wasn’t bad it was just that I didn’t feel snappy or anything. We’ve just been doing a ton of training, and I had been doing a ton of stuff besides training. I was moving at the same time and I was just tired, you know? So these last two weeks, being able to be in the same place and relax and not having anything else going on besides training and racing, my legs are starting to feel better.
VN: How do you rank this pair of New England weekends?
RT: They are two really good races in a row, two weekends of good racing. I think Gloucester means more if you’re from New England than if you are from anywhere else. It’s still a good race and an awesome event. I’ve been coming here since 2003, I think. It’s a fun race to come to. This year is the best course we’ve had out there, in terms of layout and everything. I think I’ve won Gloucester like seven times now, so it gives you the advantage of good memories because you’ve been fortunate enough to win a couple times.
I haven’t been out to Providence since 2006 when we had nationals there, and it feels good to come back and race again.
VN: After the Cannondale vs. Rapha show last weekend, what are you predicting for the coming weekend?
RT: Probably more of the same. I’m feeling really good and everyone has been riding well. Jeremy, obviously, has really good fitness and is riding strong. I think our team… well, we’ll see. There’s definitely a lot of serious competition between me, Tim and Jeremy this weekend, as well. I think Berden has been riding pretty well.
It’s a different course. It’s a bit faster out there in Providence than it is in Gloucester. It’s a little more wide open, so I think there will be a bigger group at the front. I don’t know, it will be interesting to see how the race turns out. I hope we can win at least one of the days this weekend, as well.
VN: Who are you most concerned about being strong at the end of the season?
RT: Nobody comes into the season and these first couple races going slow. Everybody wants to do well.
CrossVegas is a big event, the first USGP is a big event and then you’ve got Fort Collins, so it’s this huge string of pretty high-priority races for everyone. Everyone wants to do well in these races, so there’s no way to really gauge.
Todd Wells will start racing, but I don’t think he’s putting much priority in ‘cross this year. Honestly, Tim (Johnson) and Jeremy (Powers) will be my biggest competition all season long, I think. You don’t come into the season slow and then start getting faster; we’re pretty much all going to be getting faster all season long. I don’t think there’s really anyone who is riding slow now who is going to be at the front in a couple months.
VN: Are your handling skills in the mud your most powerful weapon?
RT: The mud isn’t a secret weapon. I don’t think I’m better at it than anyone else. I think I just tend to enjoy it. I like it, it’s fun. We’ve got great equipment and I’m really happy with the tires we’re using, and they make me feel confident in the mud.
It’s just that some people are worse at it than I am. I’m not hugely proficient at racing in the mud and stuff, it just didn’t bother me. I tend to just look at it and think, ‘well, this is what we’ve got to do,’ and I think I’ve embraced that idea, rather than think, ‘oh, this is my weakness and I’m going to do bad in it.’ It’s all about your outlook and how you look at it. It’s sort of pre-determined how you’re going to do in the race anyway.
VN: You mentioned your tires. Why are you the only member of your team riding Clement?
RT: I’ve been really happy with the tires. I’ve been really working on the design of them. I’m really comfortable on them.
I race mountain bikes for Clement, too. We just wanted to continue the year-long contract with them. It’s awesome and the tires are fantastic.
VN: How else does your setup differ from your teammates’?
RT: My bike is a little bit bigger. All the bikes are set up identically. We run the same wheel, same drivetrain everything. Pretty much the same.
I was fortunate enough that Cannondale is able to make custom frames. For me, the bikes are nearly identical to what I’ve been riding for the last couple years. It was an easy transition, because I have all the measurements and the geometry is all the same.
VN: How has your team experience changed going from a two-man operation to a powerhouse like Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com?
RT: It’s really good, you know. I’ve had no complaints, no reservations, anything. They’ve been doing this for a long time. There’s good staff and great people to take care of me. It’s been really easy. I show up at the event and the bikes are in good shape and everything has been dialed in and you don’t have to worry about anything. We all really get along. It’s been awesome.
VN: What will it take to see corporate support improve for cyclocross?
RT: I hope it will. We need to, as riders, improve on some things. The promoters need to improve on some things and the way the media reports on cyclocross needs to improve on some things. There are certain areas where we can all make changes to help make it a more professional event. It’s definitely on the upswing still. We haven’t reached a plateau. What we need is a really solid series, like the USGP, that’s well-funded and has good, stable sponsorship so we can rely on doing this event year after year.
I think we need a more concrete calendar so that people know that these are the big events that people are going to go to, and hold them in places that really support cycling. Then when you go to the event, there’s a huge crowd, thousands of people watching, versus just going to a place with a couple hundred people watching. Just more coverage, more depth. The live video coverage has been wildly popular, and the more events we can get to do that, the better.
VN: As a rider, what was it like when you heard that the USGP didn’t have sufficient sponsorship to be held this year?
RT: You know I had kind of heard rumors about it for a couple months. It was disheartening. It sucked. The USGP did a great job. It’s one of the events that you go to where it’s a known quantity. It’s something that you can offer a sponsor, where they know that this is what the event is going to look like and they know what they exposure is like. When you take out four weekends of solid, quality racing, it’s unfortunate.
There’s a ton of other really good events that we could have done in stead of the USGP, but it’s important and I’m really glad that folks like Trek and WD40 stepped up and make the races on this year.