[From Andrew at Cyclocross Magazine]
Before the opening gun of Cross Vegas, all eyes were on the European talent who hopped across the pond to try to show the cream of America's crop who was boss. When the winner crossed the finish line, it was the same Europeans who will return to Europe with their tail between their legs, soundly beaten by their American counterparts. Only the top two Americans were not the riders most expected. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) and Chris Jones (Champion System) put on an astounding show of force to keep such legendary European stars as Erwin Vervecken, Ben Berden (Revor-Bobaco) and Christian Heule (Rendementhypo) at bay, with Driscoll distancing Jones with only meters to go to take home his biggest cyclocross result to date.
With bone dry conditions, the course laid out for the 2009 edition of Cross Vegas promised extreme speeds and highly tactical racing. This is exactly what happened as the men hit the course. Immediately after the gun, an elite group formed at the front of the race that included suchcyclocross superstars as Driscoll, Jones, Vervecken, Berden, Heule, Driscoll's teammates Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, Trebon's teammate Barry Wicks, Heule's teammate Tim Van Nuffel , Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) and Todd Wells (Specialized). At the front, the heads of state attacked continually to try to shed some of the hangers on, while Chris Jones took the first major initiative, flying off the front and quickly distancing himself from the lead group. Tim Johnson had the first major response of the night, trying to close the gap to Jones, but the chase group had none of it, bringing Johnson back and keeping the chase group together.
The chasers felt, however, that Driscoll posed less of a threat to their win, and when the young Vermont native attacked, no one was inclined to go with him. Driscoll quickly crossed the gap to Jones, and once he made contact, settled in to help Jones extend the lead over the chasers. Drawing from their extensive knowledge of road racing, Jones andDriscoll traded pulls, never attacking each other, concentrating only on holding off the field. Behind, Johnson and Powers were hard at work blocking attacks that came from the other chasers, including those of RyanTrebon, Christian Heule and Erwin Vervecken . Johnson, who was still suffering from a shoulder injury suffered at Star Crossed seemed to pull up awkwardly on his bar at about the 30 minute mark, and would drop out as he crossed the finish line, leaving Powers to control things on his own.
Heule and Vervecken seemed to be the most determined to chase down Driscoll and Jones, but their constant attacks were followed by lulls in the pace, allowing whatever damage they had done to the leaders' advantage to be undone.Driscoll and Jones remained smooth and steady at the front, and with 2 laps to go, their lead was hovering at about the 20 second mark. Jonathan Page and ErwinVervecken continued their assaults through the closing laps, with the occasional attack by Ryan Trebon mixing things up, but by the time the bell lap rang, it was clear that the race was between Driscoll and Jones.
On the final lap, the lead group came apart in ways that were less than desirable. Christian Heule was taken out of the mix when a lapped rider deviated into this path, sending him to the ground and out of the running for third place. Todd Wells, who had ridden quietly at the back of the lead group for much of the race, was slowed down byHeule's spill and had to burn a match to hold on to the leaders. The race for third was down to Page, Trebon, Powers and Vervecken. Ahead, Driscoll was steadily applying pressure to Jones, and with only a few meters left to run, Driscoll had enough of a gap on Jones that he only needed a small attack to take home victory. Behind, the chasing group was led into the final meters by Jonathan Page who sprinted home to take the bronze medal, followed by Powers,Vervecken, Trebon, Wells and Heule. Despite losing Johnson to injury, the Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com team had a wildly successful race thanks to a powerful display by the young Driscoll and great team tactics by Powers.