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Crash pushes Powers back in the pack at Cyclocross Nationals

Hartford — After a bad crash derailed any hopes of continuing his impressive Cyclocross National Championship run, Jeremy Powers handled the disappointment like a veteran.

Sure, Powers, an East Lyme High School graduate, wanted at least a podium finish on Sunday to reward his faithful fans that made the trip to a chilly Riverside Park to watch him race, some for the first time.

But his season will go on.

“I felt excellent coming into the race and I had a lot of momentum from training,” Powers said. “It just didn't come together today. … I know the feeling of being on top. Other riders are still climbing the ladder where I've been.”

Powers, a 33-year-old now living in Southampton, Mass., settled for 24th place in the elite race. He has four national championships to his credit.

The treacherous snow-covered course took its toll on numerous riders, including Powers. Wipe-outs were more common than the numerous rabid fans ringing cowbells along the course.

Early in the race, Powers was involved in a crash, leaving the defending champion with a bad knee and hopelessly back in the pack.

“I couldn't walk,” said Powers, whose swollen knee required a post-race ice bag. “I had to wait a minute and walk it out until I was able to pedal my bike. I hung out on the side of the course.”

Powers battled through the discomfort to complete the grueling journey. At one point, he took a pit stop to switch tires on his bike. But he was too far behind to make up the gap.

It's been a season of tough breaks for Powers, who spent a great deal of effort in the last few months to return to top form after suffering a rib injury in September. He felt good after training for three weeks in New Mexico prior to nationals.

There was sort of a consolation prize, though, on Sunday.

First-time champion Stephen Hyde of Easthampton, Mass., went through Powers' JAM Fund Cycling program.

“He's been a huge part,” Hyde said of Powers. “I came through his development program. We're still very good friends now. I'm happy to call him a colleague.”

Powers added: “I'm definitely super-happy for him. He's had an incredible season.”

Hyde, last year's runner-up and prerace favorite, kept a cool head while conquering a stiff field and challenging, slick course, winning in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 3 seconds. Katie Compton of Colorado Springs was the women's elite winner for the 13th time.

“I was hoping it was my time,” Hyde said. “Everything has come down to this race this year. I'm really happy to pull it out.”

As far as Powers, he will now shift his focus to World Cup competition. He leaves Tuesday for Europe and will compete in Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Then he'll complete his season with a race in Japan.

He's optimistic about the future.

“I'll just keep working forward from this day,” Powers said. “I will get out of whatever valley I'm in. That's the beauty of it. I'd love to win some more races. All the work that I put in in New Mexico, I think I can still get some good results at the World Cup.”

g.keefe@theday.com

 

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