Favorite going into the race, reigning US National Cyclocross champion Katie Compton (Planet Bike) added a seventh title to her unbeaten streak. “It’s National Championships, I love winning, I’m glad I got a seventh. Every year is special, every year is hard, it’s a good day. I’m happy.” a smiling Compton said seconds after the race.
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Closing down days of fabulous racing under ever changing conditions, 97 riders took the start in front of an every growing crowd. Fans were everywhere, cheering for everyone and louder for local favorites. It was nuts and it was great.
After a slow start for her which put tenth, or maybe even fifteenth, wheel after the holeshot, Compton engaged the afterburner to chase down Georgia Gould.
Luna’s Gould had taken off like a rocket on the first lap, quickly powering from the field on the sloggy course which including tacky sections and deep, leg-sapping, treacherous boggy muddy sections and off-camber turns. Gould was in it to win. “I never go into a race for second place, ever in any race. I race to win, sometimes you get second place anyway but that’s not what I was aiming for.” Gould said.
But Compton closed down the gap and the two were off the front with two minutes on the rest of the field two laps into the race. She set the fastest lap time, of 8:31 in her chase of Gould on the second of five laps. Then Compton did what she does best and soloed away to take her seventh Stars and Stripes. Gould continued to race strong behind to finish in second.
The rest of the podium however was not as clear cut. Once again a crashed marred the first lap when Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven) and Amy Dombroski (Luna) tangled bars. After a slow start, CalGiant’s Meredith Miller was slowed down even more by the crash and then applied herself and her power to make her way back up. She chose non-existent lines to pass people and made her way to the first chase group. But she didn’t stay there, rode to the front and powered away to get third place.
The battle was then on for the two remaining spots on the podium. After shuffling and re-shuffling, three riders were together competing for the two spots, and they just happened to be Hudz-Subaru teammates. Kathy Sherwin, Sue Butler and masters 35-39 champion Nicole Duke were fighting it out. And fight they did, each using their strengths at appropriate times and the battle continued until the last lap, in the infield. Duke went first over the fly over but then went down on the corner. Sherwin made her move but Butler caught her at the top of the stairs and the sprint was on. Sherwin took fourth, Butler fifth and Duke sixth.
The race inside the race was the U23 competition, also for a National title. On the first laps, Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) and Ashley James (Team Kenda) were glued together then James pulled away. But both had raced that morning for the Collegiate title, won by James and Antonneau, who finished second in that race, had kept a bit in the tank. She kept her eye on James and on the prize, and not only closed it down but moved up 5 spots, 10 spots to finish 10th overall and take the title. Behind her, James faded and was passed by Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12) who took second in the U23 contest.
“I’m so happy, it was my goal all year.” Antonneau said about her result. She added about her team, “It’s amazing, they’re the best. All week, we’ve been talking about the course a little bit, they’re just really supportive.”
After crashing hard on that first lap, Bruno-Roy made her way to the pit to get a new bike, dead last. She then picked up way through the field to finish 21st overall, with a bloody mouth. After the race she had stitches put into her mouth.
“It was a great venue — a great course. It had everything you’d want: stair run-up, power sections, technical sections, mud,” said Compton. “It was a great field of women today. It’s awesome to know that I can race here and really get pushed.”
Katie Compton (Planet Bike). “I felt pretty good, it was a hard effort, Georgia is riding strong, I knew it was going to be a really hard day today and I just took one lap at a time and kept the pace on.”
About dueling with Georgia. “I put her under pressure. It’s a hard unforgiving course, I had to keep it clean not make any mistakes, you could easily lose 20 seconds in one crash. I just wanted to push where I could and keep it clean, actually use the road section to recover.”
About pitting. “I took a bike change every lap. It was getting heavy, I was going up the runup, I think it’s ten-times heavier than it was and I just like a clean bike with clean brakes and clean tires.”
About the last lap. “I didn’t start enjoying it until the runup because I was like ‘okay if I crash now I can get to the finish’ but yeah, I was always keeping an eye on Georgia the whole time.”
Georgia Gould (Luna). “I always try to get a good start because the fewer people in front of you, the fewer people can mess you up. So I like to leave it all up to myself to make mistakes to take myself out. I just always try to get a good start and then, Katie caught up to me and I was there for a little bit but she just keeps attacking, she’s riding really strong. I just couldn’t, the crowd was so awesome and I was ‘oh I wish I could channel all these people and force myself to go harder’ but it was hard, it was really hard. Sometimes you try really hard and you only get second place. Sometimes that happens in a lot of races in a row.” (laughs)
About the crowd. “This is huge, it’s pretty awesome and they’re up on that hill, it was just awesome. You’re riding through there and it was just surreal, everyone’s shouting and wringing bells, it’s awesome. It’s such an honor to get to race in front of so many people and have everyone come out. I wish I could have made it a little more exciting for longer but two laps if all I had.”
About racing against Compton. “She’s really strong, a really technically good rider too. I know when I’m riding, having an excellent day, when everything comes together, I’m totally capable of beating her. No one is unbeatable but she’s focused on cross, focused on Worlds and she’s going to be tough to beat. I never go into a race for second place, ever in any race. I race to win, sometimes you get second place anyway but that’s not what I was aiming for.”
Meredith Miller (CalGiant). “Of course, it a bad start as usual. Then it this first straight section, Mo went down and I thought I was going to go around it but her bike was in front of me. I was the first person to run into her bike, I was just about to pick up my bike and go over it when someone ran into the back of me and then we got tangled up.”
About chasing back. “I know how to do that, I’m pretty good at doing that right? It was just about staying calm, not worrying so much about what was going on in front of me but focusing on my race. There are definitely certain lines that everybody wants out here but I just had to take my chances with other lines to try to pass people. Then when I could really use my power to my advantage, that’s when I had to go hard and back off a little bit through some of the tighter sections and power off again in the straighter sections.”
About picking people off. “It was one of those things because you can’t really follow people because it’s slow and if you have to slow down more than you want to do, or they just take a line that you’re not comfortable with, it screws up your race.”
Happy about her result? “I am, given the two women who finished in front of me. Of course, I want to win but in my mind I was thinking if I can finish in the top 3, I’ll be really happy with that.”
Kathy Sherwin (Hudz-Subaru). “I was so happy first of all that it was my teammates, that’s a pretty good feeling, anyway you’re going to win. But at the same time, fourth, fifth, sixth, so there’s a little bit of that going around in your head and you have to plan accordingly, I think actually we were all giving it everything we had. We were all attacking each other, going out in front when it was our strengths. Nicole was in front on the fly over and ended up going down on the corner and that’s when I passed. I think at that point we might have had maybe a bike length on Sue, I don’t know I wasn’t looking back. At that point, I was like ‘this is it, go’. So I went, Sue got around me at the top of the stairs, and then it was go time. I think she [Sue] couldn’t switch gears quick enough and I, again, capitalized and came around and about fell over on my bike.”
About changing course conditions. “I got out there on Tuesday, it was more snowy and actually more power, it was a power course. And then on Thursday, it was a tacky course. Then yesterday of course it was sloppy. And today it was a combination of sloppy and tacky, or I should say sloggy. Every grass section was mentally push, push, push.”
Pleased with fourth? “Yes I am. I would have been happier with third or second or first but, pleased is a good word. And you’re always happy with what your body can do on any given day and happy for just being out there.”
Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com). “All those boggy sections, that was so hard you just had to grind through there. It was tough. ”
About racing Collegiate race that morning. “I didn’t notice that much difference between the course. This morning, I rode hard but I tried to conserve as much as I could, I wanted to really do well in this race. I just rode within myself this morning and this afternoon I just left everything out there.”
About battling with James. “We were together and then she was ahead of me for a lap, then I know to keep her in my sights, I knew that I could bring her back. When I caught her again, I just went and didn’t look back. It was tough, a long race.”
Top 5 Elite Women
1. Katherine Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Planet Bike) 0:43:48
2. Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna Pro Team) 0:44:19
3. Meredith Miller (Fort Collins, Colo./California Giant-Specialized) 0:47:07
4. Katherine Sherwin (Heber City, UT/Hudz-Subaru) 0:47:25
5. Susan Butler (Portland, OR/Hudz-Subaru) 0:47:26
Top 5 U23 Women
1. Kaitlin Antonneau (Racine, Wisc./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) 0:48:21
2. Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif./Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) 0:49:52
3. Ashley James (Delafield, Wisc./Team Kenda p/b GEARGRINDER) 0:51:24
4. Emily Shields (Salisbury, N.C./Carolina Masters Cycling Club) -2 laps
5. Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif./TEAM SoCalCross) -2 laps