National Champ Jeremy Powers looks to rebound in Hartford
Jeremy Powers has become a one-man dynasty in modern American cyclocross. The longtime SRAM and Zipp athlete last year won his fourth USA Cycling Elite Men’s Cyclocross National Championship in the past six years.
This month’s national championship in Connecticut provides Powers (Aspire Racing) with an opportunity to build on that remarkable record. This season, though, has been different for Powers. In recent years, he’s come into nationals with a season filled with victories in U.S. UCI races and steady results in European events. This year, though, Powers has struggled with injuries, illness, and lack of consistent form.
Back pain and rib injuries have hampered Powers this season.
Powers, at 33, finds himself the veteran looking to hold off motivated young rivals. Competition is heating up, especially with the emergence of Stephen Hyde of Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com as a top rival. In 2016, Hyde along with Logan Owen (both also SRAM and Zipp athletes) pushed Powers to the limit at cyclocross nationals in Ashville, NC. Hyde has continued this year with a series of victories in U.S. races and steady progression in Europe. Other rising stars include Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz), and Yannick Eckmann (Boulder Cycle Sport/YogaGlo).
In response, Powers is working to maintain his famously sunny attitude and his doubling down on his training, including a recent training stint in the warmth of New Mexico ahead of cyclocross nationals in Hartford, Conn.
“The group has come up. I am 33, so I am not a spring chicken at this point. I realized there was going to be a time when the wins would not be as easy as before,” Powers said. “My season started out pretty good. I felt strong at the openers. I felt like I was on the right track…. I never really got to be able to showcase the hard work I had put in in the early season and in the off season.”
Stars and stripes and Powers, a familiar combiation.
Early season highlights included a C1 UCI victory in September at Rochester, NY. Next came a hard crash at the Trek CXC Cup in Wisconsin which injured his ribs. Powers then finished 18th at CrossVegas and 43rd at JingleCross, both UCI World Cup events.
“Being 5 percent off my game, 2 percent off my game, I can’t win. It’s been a lot of working through and trying to stay positive,” Powers said. “When you’re at this level, feeling 100 percent and being able to go as hard as I can is something I have not been able to do this year.”
Beyond injured ribs, Powers also has suffered from back pain. He’s sought treatment and adjusted his bike fit, including temporarily switching from the Zipp Service Course SL-80 handlebar to the shorter reach Service Course SL-70 before moving back to the SL-80. The shorter reach of the SL-70 helped provide more comfort when he was dealing with pain.
Jeremy Powers, with his friendly upbeat personality, is a fan favorite through his years at the top of American cyclocross.
Recently Powers has been training in New Mexico with a mix of motor pacing, running drills, and riding a cyclocross loop with sand and steep climbs. The focus is squarely on Nationals in Hartford and then the World Championships in Luxembourg.
“I feel like I have a really good lay of the land with it,” Powers, a Connecticut native, said of the Hartford course. He has the perspective of a veteran who’s ready for a battle on home turf.
All photos © Balint Hamvas Cyclephotos