It's all coming together now for Powers

Perfection in the sports world comes in many forms.

There's the pitching a perfect game in baseball.

There's rolling a 300 game in bowling.

And there's what Jeremy Powers did on a cold, windy Sunday in Boulder, Colo.

Powers, an East Lyme native, dominated a deep and talented field at the U.S. Cyclo-cross National Championships, seizing the lead for good with a blazing start and maintaining a sizzling pace until the finish in the men's elite race.

He rode a perfect race on the way to winning his second national title in three years and earning a trip to the World Championships early next month in the Netherlands.

"The first time is always special," Powers said during a phone conversation from his home in Easthampton, Mass. "To be able to do it two times, it's really great. I'm overly happy with it."

One of the pre-race favorites, Powers, 30, came in confident and in top form. He made adjusts in his training and racing schedule to prepare for the race. He arrived in Colorado about three weeks before the event to adjust to the altitude - 5,500 feet - and get a good feel for the course and map out his strategy.

Not known as a fast starter, Powers surprised his challengers by darting off the starting line and then gradually extended his lead.

"It's not a tactic that I use often…," Powers said. "At altitude it's a risky move because you can get gassed and it's really hard to recover. But this time I had done everything in my prep to get ready for it and I felt like I could push it and I knew where my limit was, so I challenged that limit and rode my own race."

"… I felt really strong and I even felt like I was in control of the race. … I just felt awesome the entire time."

The relatively dry conditions suited Powers, who smoothly negotiated a course that featured some sharp turns and challenging hills as well as a section of 24 steps that riders attacked by dismounting and carrying their bikes.

He finished in 59 minutes, 16 seconds, beating runner-up Ryan Trebon by a comfortable 43 seconds.

"The preparation went perfect…," Powers said. "It was great to have it all pay off."

Unlike his first national championship win in 2012, his entire family, including his parents, Michael and Kathy, sister and wife, Emily, attended the race. Other members of his close-knit circle watched online.

"To have everyone there and to be able to perform in front of them in that way, it's really, really special," Powers said. "I don't have anything to compare it to. It is a sense that you're elated and just really, really happy for everyone to be able to be part of it."

After a whirlwind weekend that included a subdued post-race celebration, a tired Powers flew home to Massachusetts Monday. His focus already has shifted to preparing for the World Championships, which begin on Feb. 1.

"There will be a time for a bigger celebration," Powers said. "But it kind of comes every day when you get to pull on the jersey of a national champion, because it's sort of a privilege."

Powers isn't satisfied yet. He's in the prime of his professional career. He's decided to step away from road racing to just focus on cyclo-cross, a sport growing in popularity and talent.

Now he's looking to make a statement on the world stage. Last year he posted the highest finish by an American in a World Cup event, placing seventh. He finished 10th in the overall standings.

The upcoming World Championships will give him another elite stage to prove himself on. A realistic goal is a top 10 finish, he said.

"For me, it's about perfection," Powers said. "That's really what it comes down to. Stars have to align. We'll see what happens. I'm optimistic.

"I think I've got good form right now and I know it's going to continue for the next month because of my training and where I feel I'm at right now, so I'm excited."

g.keefe@theday.com

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