A light snow greeted the pro/elite field at the Salisbury cyclocross race in North Carolina. When the pros took to the starting grid the snow was gone but the biting cold remained. In attendance were the NCCX series leaders looking to accumulate points. The top riders in the 14 race series were called to the front, giving them the advantage when the flag was dropped. Starting at the back of the grid because he hadn’t earned any points in the 14 race series was Cannondale presented by CyclocrossWorld.com rider Jeremy Powers.
The Connecticut native had left the Northeast for the warmer climes of the South, and the Salisbury race was the bookend to a ten-day training block he had been doing in Greenville, South Carolina. And even though the temperatures in Salisbury were in the 30s these conditions were an improvement from what Mother Nature had unleased up North.
The usual NCCX suspects were on the grid in Salisbury: Travis Livermon – a strong mountain biker who rides for Mock Orange Racing, series leader Scott Frederick with three wins and was looking for his forth, Jonathan Hamblen – always a strong contender whether it’s on the road or dirt, and Will Black – a man who is nearly twice the age of his competition and beats them on a regular basis.
The flag was dropped and the start was the usual chaos. Within the first lap groups had formed. Up front the strong men were setting the pace. Behind them and plowing through the field was the lime green kit of Powers.
Usually starting at the back of the grid is the kiss of death when it comes to cyclocross. The racing is all out from the very first pedal stroke with limited places and opportunities to pass slower riders. Within the first lap Powers showed his strength by catching the lead group. Accelerating again Powers left the leaders with only Livermon able to stay on his wheel. At times the Mock Orange rider was popped only to claw himself back up to Powers. With only a few laps remaining Livermon attacked. Powers caught Livermon and countered, dropping him for good. With one lap remaining the Cannondale rider looked smooth and confident hopping the barriers with ease. Powers crossed the line first followed by Livermon and Robert Marion of American Classic in third.
“It was fast,” said Powers “and a good way to end my training in the South.”
Next up for Powers is two World Cups in Europe and then the World Championships in Germany.
Scott Frederick continues to lead the NCCX series with Will Black still in second place. A complete series listing can be found at the Pre-Reg.com site.