Not that there was any doubt to the outcome as far as the top step of the podium of the third and final race of Cincinnati’s UCI3 Cyclocross Festival, but with big money on the line Katie Compton (Planet Bike/Stevens) took no chances at Harbin Park. After slotting in into fourth spot after the holeshot, Compton quickly made her way to the front before the first time though the sandpit, rode it and simply powered away to sweep the 3-day event. Then she kept the pace high, riding smoothly through the sand, around the loose 180-turns, over the roots to win her 45th UCI cross race.
“There’s only so much drama I can give when I want to win two thousand dollars. Two thousand dollars, I’m not going to mess around and wait that’s for sure.” Compton said after the race.
How much money you ask? The Sunday was one of the biggest pay day for cross racing in the US, with equal prize money for the top 5 women. Compton received $2351 for the day. She’s not the only family member to win as her husband Mark Legg also swept the Masters 35+ field.
Behind her the battle was on for the remaining spots on the podium, the UCI points for a C1 race and to be in the money, meaning top 5. After Compton accelerated away, a chase group was quickly formed with Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru) who once again took the holeshot, Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes), Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale prepared by Cyclocrossworld.com) and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven). One lap later, Ashley James (Team Kenda) made contact with Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) dangling a few seconds behind chasing hard – every place counted doubly on Sunday.
Bruno-Roy set the early pace, choosing to ride on the uphill section of the sandpit while most of the others ran it. But the effort in the heat got to her and she cracked and faded back. That brought Butler to the front to continue to set the pace, she tried to get the others to pull through but the game of tactics was on. No one wanted to take sprinter Van Gilder to the grassy perfectly straight, 400 meter uphill finish, they almost did on the final lap when Antonneau came to the front when the games almost brought the group to a standstill. But Van Gilder closed the gap down and they were all together for the final mad dash.
Butler went out first, trying to use her power one last time. But disaster struck when her chain jammed between her two chainrings. Van Gilder saw it and jump on the opportunity to open up her sprint. Antonneau put her head down and gave it all she had. The two sprinted to the line with Van Gilder easily taking second and a stoked Antonneau third.
James came around Butler to take fourth. After trying to fix her chain, Butler shouldered the bike and started running but she was passed by Winfield and Bruno-Roy before the finish line.
It was Antonneau’s first UCI podium. Her coach Compton had to help her out with the champagne, but she learned fast. Oh and being underaged, Antonneau did not partake in the beverage itself.
Katie Compton (Planet Bike). “It was also a slower start and I knew that Sue wasn’t going to be the sucker again today so I just took the lead from her and I wanted to get to the sandpit first because I knew I was going to ride it and I wasn’t sure if the other girls would. I hit that sandpit first, I had a little gap and I figured just keep the pressure on. It’s hot out here today, the chance for mechanicals or flats, it’s too much money on the line to wait so I just stayed on it and kept going.”
About the course. “There’s more pedaling section today, there’s more sustained climbing for a cross race and it was harder just fitness wise today, yesterday there were a lot more technical turns so there was a little more coasting through it. But today you had to pedal and go fast, a lot of carrying your speed and getting through the course quickly.”
Advice given to Kaitie Antonneau before the race. “I’m super excited for Kaitie, that was awesome. We just worked on some skills prior to the race, taking the right line, apexing turn, just telling her where she can conserve and where she can go. In cross there are so many subtleties like that, if you can save a half second here, a half-second there, it adds up after five laps and forty minutes and if you don’t have to work so hard you can be faster at the end.”
Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes). “I’m thrilled. Today was a hard course and my strategy was the same, certainly having Kaitlin there, Mo and Ashley James, it was a much bigger group and I figured the onus was on them. Coming in to see one to go in the corner as we came up into the field, Kaitlin came to the front and I actually slid out and I had to close a pretty big gap as we were going to see the bell lap. Coming to the sand, that’s why I chose to go to the front so I could take it at my pace and kind minimize the damage but I was pinned right then so I really, just the last lap, tried to recover. Knowing that it came down to a sprint with Sue last year, I just knew that I had to time it perfectly, it’s pretty long and it’s also uphill and at the tippy top it pinches up, you just can’t say that you’ve got it from far out, if you’re over-geared you’re going to grind to a halt. Sue had some chain issues and I just decided I was going to go, it was an opportunity. Someone is going to do it to you if it happens, it was unfortunate for her because she has a good kick at the end too, so I just went, Kaitlin is kind of an unknown and I’m not going to wait and see what she has in the tank.”
About the chase group. “Sue was setting the pace, she encouraged Kaitlin to come to the front down as we headed to the prologue start loop and Kaitlin led until we came to the grass and that’s when I was gapped and then Sue came around her. I don’t know that Sue knew that I was gapped, I thought ‘man if they see I’m gapped they’re going to turn it on and when we get to the sand it’s going to be bad because Sue had the advantage there’. I got right back to them as quick as I could, recovered and just thought ‘let me just go to the front here’, go at my pace and then they can just come around me up here.”
About the first lap. “First lap? I really didn’t think that I could ride it so I chose to run it. I think you could see after the second time, maybe it hurt Mo a little bit I don’t know but I thought ‘I’m staying kind of with them running it’, and honestly I can’t go with Katie’s accelerations, I don’t have that kind of endurance and I thought today’s course had a lot more effort, longer efforts and I thought this could suit Sue because she can lay on the gas longer so I need to ride my race, and then again not make mistakes and I was very happy with how few mistakes I made.”
Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com). “It was hard, it was good, I’m proud of how I did.”
About her race. “I’m really happy. I think I went to the front once because Laura and Sue slowed down to see which one would go first and Ashley was just trailing us and I could tell she was hurting and I didn’t want us to slow down. I didn’t want her to catch back on as much as I like her (smiles), we’re racing. Then I pulled though in there but otherwise I just followed them, just tried to hang on and relax. At the end, I know Laura is really good at sprinting and I just tried to stay on her. Sue had a little mechanical and I was like ‘okay this is time to go’, so I just went.”
About advice given by Katie Compton. “She’s my coach. We just worked on lines, parts where normally I’d want to take it easy to push hard there, and that really helped I think. That’s one of the reasons I did so well and could hang with them.”
The most difficult part of the course. “The finish straight. Every time through there, it was just ‘huh I’m not going anywhere’.”
Ashley James (Team Kenda). “The first lap through the corner up there, I had a fourth-row start and the first lap I was just trying to move up and it was hard. I caught up with that group and I was happy to be there and to just ride pace with them.”
The most difficult part of the course. “The barriers (laughs), I need to practice the barriers. The sandpit was brutal. There was a lap, I think Sue Butler rode it, and everyone was getting away and that was a dig. I was happy I caught back on.”
Her goal for the season. “To keep racing, to see how the season unfolds. I started with no expectations at Planet Bike [USGP in Madison], I had a good run for me and I was happy for it. Just to keep on trying to do what I can in these races.”
Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru). “I was not going to get the holeshot today. I didn’t try and I let them get in front of me, and I thought ‘okay just sit’. And then Mo went on the front and Katie was already gone and I just sat in and thought ‘don’t pull the whole time’. But then Mo blew up and there I was on the front.”
About pulling most of the race. “We slowed up so much on one of the corners that Kaitie got pinched off because Laura wouldn’t go around. I talked to Laura about it afterwards, ‘if we would have worked together we could have gotten a gap’. But she’s like ‘I’m not strong enough, I’m like ‘you won Gloucester last week, you’re strong enough’. But she’s just not trusting her fitness right now, so I knew I had the fitness, I just tried to pin it on some of the straight sections and shake them but I didn’t want to go too fast because I knew it would come to a sprint so everyone started catching up to us. I was like ‘whatever’.”
About the finish. “I knew that it was going to be a fast finish so I wanted to get my big chainring and I shifted and I must have been under too much load and my chain got shoved in between the two chain rings and the the gearing I have right now, I have two chainrings that are thick.. or I forgot what they told me, but they told me I have it wrong and I need to fix it because it just jammed in between with the flex. I couldn’t pedal backwards, I couldn’t pedal forwards and I spent a little too much time dicking with it, I just have started running right away. It was a long run and it was a fast run, I’ve never run so fast in my life. It was good, you know stuff happens in racing and you have to take it with stride, it was an expensive mistake but I don’t race for the money, it would have been nice to go home with your expenses paid but whatever, it’s all good, I’m happy.”
Top 6 Results
1. Katie Compton (Planet Bike/Stevens)
2. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
3. Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale prepared by Cyclocrossworld.com)
4. Ashley James (Team Kenda)
5. DeeDee Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
6. Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven)
7. Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru)
8. Kristin Gavin (team CF-Elite)
9. Barbara Howe (Ibis And The Danger Twins)
10. Arley Kemmerer (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)