Worlds Week: Why Jeremy Powers Can Podium

With dry conditions, J-Pow can easily make the top 5 at Worlds. What about in the mud? - Patrick Verhoest

American jingoism aside, I believe Jeremy Powers has a real shot at a podium placing this Sunday in Louisville. Why?

Vital Stats:

Height: 1.80m (5'11)

Weight: 68kg (150lbs)

Hometown: Niantic, Conneticut, USA

Pedigree: The best... this side of the Atlantic. Powers is now in his fourth year leading the USA Cycling (our national federation) rankings for cyclocross. Though this largely overlooks Jonathan Page and his European focus, Powers is also in his second year leading the UCI rankings for American riders. He has the best ever finish for an American elite male at a World Cup (7th in Tabor this year) and is the undisputed king of American cyclocross right now.

How's He Doing?

Hot and cold. After a great ride at Tabor early this season and absolutely blitzing the bigger C1 races in the United States - even winning the overall of the USGP series without contesting the final two races - Powers has bogged down. Domestically, he is still hot, but in his last trip across the pond to the World Cups in Namur and Zolder he finished in the 20s and 30s - barely on the lead lap. The mud and running did not suit him, but he was surely hoping for more after skipping the final USGP round to train for those races in Arizona.

In the past two weeks, Powers has had a disappointing showing at nationals - finishing a distant 6th, three minutes down on Jonathan Page - followed by a much better ride at the UCI race in Cincinnati this past weekend where he eked past Page in the final laps to finishe third to Niels Albert and Wieste Bosmans, a mere 16 seconds behind the reigning world champion. More impressive was the way Powers raced from the back, starting slow and moving his way through the field before laying down a blistering last two laps (definitely not his characteristic racing style). If J-Pow came into the past weeks a bit overtrained - a possibility - he seems to be finally shedding some of the fatigue and re-finding his characteristic snap. He's certainly not running on fumes like he was this time last year.

How's The Course For Him?

Six races in the USGP series have been held at Eva Bandman Park in the past three years and Powers has won five. The only time he was beat was when he finished close behind Tim Johnson one day in 2010. Simply put, the guy loves to win on this course. The course is fast and punchy - tailor made for Powers - though we have yet to see a muddy race at this venue, amazingly. If it gets heavy - which signs point towards - he could have a harder time using his speed. Also, not that it is faster, but Powers can consistently ride the limestone stairs in the second half of the lap where everybody else runs. So, if he falls back, at least he will get style points?

The Case Against A Powers Podium

Belgium. Simply put, Powers will have to beat Niels Albert, Kevin Pauwels, or Sven Nys to finish on the podium. Honestly, Lars van der Haar - who has similar strengths but is more versitle - is more likely to do so. It's not impossible, just hard. Fifth is more likely for Powers.

Secondly, for all his focus, part of the problem may be J-Pow's eagerness to make an impression at Worlds on his course. His focus has been keen this season, but he has flirted with training too much in the leadup to some of his major objectives.

FYI

J-Pow is a renown DJ in the cycling world. Really, he can spin some mad beats and always brings turntables with him when he travels to kill time. He has restrained himself from DJing this fall to focus on Worlds and his other goals, but expect him to come back hard... perhaps as the DJ of the after-party.

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