Jeremy Powers Interview: From the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to cross
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jeremy Powers Interview: From the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to cross

by Ed Hood at 10:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Cyclocross
Road season under his belt, American rider turns to his big passion

Jeremy PowersFor most riders their precious autumn break is within touching distance, but for the men whose habitat is cloying mud rather than the beach in the off-season, the second phase of their year is just about to start.

Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly & Rapha Focus) had just finished the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado when we spoke to him, but his first cyclo-cross training camp was only days away.

Powers was a successful mountain biker as a junior before moving over to ‘cross. His first big ride in the world of skinny, knobbly tires and cantilever brakes was second place in the 2005 US U23 championships.

Since then he has built up an enviable palmares with wins running into double figures last winter. He was hot favourite for the US title but an early crash meant that he had to settle for bronze.

Powers has spent his summers riding for the US domestic road squad Jelly Belly since 2004, with his last four ‘cross seasons spent riding for Cannondale/; but this winter sees the 28 year-old from Niantic, Connecticut change his winter plumage to the pink hi-lights of Rapha-FOCUS.

He’s aiming for a big cross season and is psyched by what lies ahead.

VeloNation:You’ve been racing in Colorado; how was that thin air, Jeremy?

Jeremy Powers: I’ve just wakened up after sleeping 10 hours, straight – I’ve been away from home since August 2nd and I’m trying to get back into a normal groove.

We had the Gatorade race; the Tour of Elk Grove and then went to altitude to acclimatise for Colorado but fitted in the pro crit Nationals just before it, where we got second with Brad Huff.

I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about the altitude aspect – I reckon the worst thing you could do is not to acclimatise before you go.

When you’re at 12,000 feet it really saps your ability to go hard; the coaching company Training Peaks reckon that at 9,000 feet for a given effort you’ll be 10% down on watts. The pain in your legs is the same but your power is way down.

I missed the time cut on the last day – that was a little unfair I think, because there were just so many spectators on the course after the peloton had passed.

The cut was six-and-a-half minutes and we got in on eight – what’s the difference? But I did my job in the race; and it was great training for my ‘cross season.

VN: What did you think of the race?

JP: I think it was really great for US cycling; everyone had a passion for the event – all of the promoting staff, the riders and the fans.

VN: What about the fans going over the top?

JP: I think it’s just the US fans take on what they see the Euro fans doing on TV – it started with Didi, ‘the Devil.’

We’ve got the ‘sumo guy’ the guy with horns and there was a 70 year-old lady with a sign saying, ‘I’m single!’

I wasn’t going for the win so I had a chance to chuckle to myself. It maybe got a little out of control but it’s just enthusiasm and our take on the European tradition.

VN: It must be tough for the US crit teams to joust with the likes of The Shack and Liquigas?

JP: Remember that teams like Spider Tech and Kelly ride European programmes and we’ve ridden California and the Tour of Korea, this year – hard races.

I think it’s a huge opportunity for US riders to compete and show against some of the best riders in the world.

VN: What was the highlight of your 2011 road season?

JP: I did a lot of work for the team over the year – my best road result was 2010 when I won the Green Mountain stage race, but my job is to ride for our leader on the road. In California I was getting involved in lead out situations but my job isn’t sprints or GC.

A lot of my motivation for road racing is to look after myself for the ‘cross season – I don’t know if I could ride a World Tour programme.

Jeremy PowersVN: Rapha – new ground?

JP: The guys running the programme at Rapha Focus have a great vision for the venture and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

I know the guys at Focus, they asked me to get involved last year but I waited ‘til they had a year under their belt – and it was hard for me to think about leaving

But right now I have all of my equipment and 35 wheel sets…and all of my flights and hotels for the season are booked already.

I’m very confident about the team’s organisation and abilities - which is great for someone as scatter-brained as me!

VN: Do you go straight from the road into the ‘cross season?

JP: I’m having ten days off racing – I’ve already started to do some running – then I have a ‘cross camp in Maryland where I’ll work on my skills, do drills and then it’s ‘CrossVegas’ on September 14th. I’m hoping my Colorado form should be good for that.

VN: The Nationals will be a big target for you?

JP: They’ve been moved to January, in line with Europe and are being held in Madison, Wisconsin; it could be mild and raining up there or freezing and snowing – a whole lot of things could happen in that race.

I have the two Czech rounds of the World Cup - at Plzen and Tabor - in October, then the World Cup at Koksijde in Belgium in November – that’s where the Worlds are at the end of January - the final round of the US Grand Prix of cyclocross is in Bend Oregon on December 11th with the final two legs of the World Cup in France and Holland coming in January, after the Nationals but before the Worlds.

VN: And the Worlds are in the US in 2013…

JP: Louisville, Kentucky – it’s a great opportunity for me; I’ll be at a point in my career where I can realistically look for a result.

VN: Will anyone be able to touch Stybar this year, after his ProTour road debut?

JP: I follow Stybar on Twitter but I’ve not heard about his ‘cross programme yet, although he has mentioned he’s having custom Merckx bikes built.

He’s a great rider and I hope that his road commitments don’t prevent him from riding the ‘crosses, he’s the man at the moment.

VN: Have the UCI tampered with the rules again this season?

JP: Not that I’m aware of, there was the reduction in tyre size, last year from 35 to 33mm and the decision to allow disc brakes.

I think that the tech for wheels needs to catch up with the tech for the brakes; but I think that we will see them being used in Louisville.

VN: And when will we see the first US world ‘cross champion?

JP: I don’t know, but soon, I hope!

It’s a growing sport and it’s a sport which is making an impact in its own right, not just as an adjunct to road racing.

I see that as very much part of my role – to promote cyclo-cross in the US. It’s a real sport, it brings kids into the cycling – but we want to keep them here, not lose them to the road!


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