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Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) followed the lead of fellow national champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) at round one of the KMC Cyclo-cross Festival on Saturday, attacking on the second lap and staying away for the victory.
Zach McDonald (KCCX) got an early lead on the damp circuit at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island, but Powers was lurking right behind, with Allen Krughoff (Noosa Professional Cyclocross Team).
Powers quickly took charge of the lead trio, as Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) established himself just behind, between the front-runners and a good-sized chase.
On the second go-round Powers opened a three-second gap over McDonald, with Krughoff and Johnson a further four seconds down.
With seven laps to go Powers was all alone, bunny-hopping the barriers, and Johnson was leading the pursuit, which included Krughoff, McDonald and Jonathan Page (Fuji-Spy).
Then Johnson rode the others off his wheel and took sole possession of second, 12 seconds down.
The margin was unchanged going into six laps to go, but at midrace Powers had added a few seconds to his advantage over Johnson. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) was now leading a sizable group battling for the final step on the podium as the rain that bedeviled the women’s race began again.
With four laps to go Johnson was losing ground, slipping to 22 seconds behind Powers.
A lap later Powers was still in command, with Johnson in second and a three-man chase — Lukas Winterberg (Cannondale), Berden and Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy-Scott).
Dodge crashed in a corner, briefly blocking Berden and giving Winterberg an opportunity to get away. But Berden was able to recover and battle back up to the Swiss rider.
Going into bell lap, Powers was unassailable, comfortable enough to have pitted once for a fresh machine. Likewise Johnson had a firm grip on second, 42 seconds down. And the battle for third a minute behind the U.S. champ seemed to be going Winterberg’s way, though Berden wasn’t waving any white flags.
Powers sat up and punched the air as he coasted across for the victory. Johnson checked over one shoulder before weaving to the crowd as he crossed in the runner-up spot, and Winterberg got the better of Berden, filling that final podium spot.
“I’m pretty confident now in the mud,” said Powers, explaining that he’s been training in the goo whenever possible.
“Today was a great test,” he added. “We’ll definitely be seeing mud in Europe.”
What we won’t be seeing is Powers on day two in Providence. He’s planned a number of one-day outings, “one day, as hard as I can go.”