Daily News Digest: Sagan returns to winning ways; CX nationals round up

by Neal Rogers

January 15, 2018

In today’s Daily News Digest: Sagan opens season with win at People’s Choice Classic; Spratt takes Santos Women’s Tour GC, Hosking wins final stage; Van der Poel, Van Aert defend respective national CX titles; Cant, Brand, Ferrand-Prevot take national CX titles; Hyde defends US national cyclocross title after duel with Powers; Compton holds off Noble to take 14th consecutive national CX title; 2018 Vuelta a España route details announced; Sky debutant Halvorsen out for TDU after fracture in People’s Choice crash; Kask unveils Utopia, its most aerodynamic road helmet.

Hyde defends US national cyclocross title after duel with Powers

by Neal Rogers

Stephen Hyde (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) successfully defended his national cyclocross title Sunday in Reno, Nevada, but only just, finishing 13 seconds ahead of four-time national champion Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) after a final-lap attack snapped the elastic that had held them together the entire race.

A six-man group formed on the first lap that included Hyde, Powers, Kerry Werner (Kona), Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz-Donkey Label Racing), Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Jack Kisseberth (JAM Fund-NCC). One by one the group thinned, with White and Kisseberth both suffering punctures while Powers drove the pace. With three laps remaining Powers launched an attack that saw Werner lose contact. Ortenblad was unable to respond, drawing out Hyde, who countered with his own attack. Powers clawed his way onto Hyde’s wheel, and from that point on it was a two-man battle for the stars-and-stripes jersey.

The result was a reversal of two years ago, when Powers took his fourth title ahead of Hyde, who was making his first podium appearance at nationals. Since then, Hyde, 30, has emerged as the most dominant US cyclocross racer, while Powers struggled with heart arrhythmia and also become a father. Powers, 34, had an abysmal race in the ice and snow at the 2017 nationals in Hartford, Connecticut, and was a shadow of his former self during much of the 2017-18 season, prompting many to question whether he would even be a contender for the podium. Instead, Powers showed up on form, benefitting from the fast conditions he prefers, and nearly took a fifth title. A late pass by Hyde in the last half of the final lap proved to be the difference, with Powers finally relenting inside the last moments of the race.

“I have personally learned a lot from Jeremy about racing at altitude,” Hyde said. “Sit and sit and make your move as late as possible. But he was driving it from the beginning, and that’s rare. When I saw Tobin start to kind of wave around, I was like, ‘Okay, he can’t close the gap.’ So I attacked the both of them and got some separation. We dropped Tobin and I knew that was the nail in the coffin. It was up in the air if could drop Jeremy, and he came back super, super strong. It was a really big battle on that last lap. Both of us knew it was going to be who did this run-up on the last lap. He passed me really hard, and I passed him in that last one, and we were able to make it out of the big chicane without crashing, and I got the gap.”