Touch conditions, crashes, nothing stopped American Katie Compton (Planet Bike) from dominating the Zolder World Cup. Her fourth World Cup win this season hoisted her to the top of the standings. After a quick start, the seven-time and reigning US National Champion was at the front, her usual spot, and putting time into her competitors. Yes she crashed, multiple times like everyone else, but she quickly got back on the bike and moved on. With laps around 9 to 10 minutes each, it wasn’t fast but it was smooth as Compton increased her gap to win with a 53 second-margin after four laps.
“It was very tough today, we all had problems to stay on our bikes in these conditions. I crashed several times but despite a few bruises I am OK. I heard I wasn’t the only one who crashed.” Compton said.
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But Compton will not be wearing the white World Cup jersey for long as she will skip the next race, all in preparation for the World Championships.
Behind her the chase was on led by Sanne van Paassen with World Champion Marianne Vos surging up and catching her wheel. The two battled until the fourth and final lap when Vos was able to drop van Paassen to take second place.
Everyone had to battle the tough conditions. The lines were disappearing and changing every lap and with the accumulated snow, it became a single track in some spots on the course. And then there were the steep runups and descents, treacherous with fans lining the barriers waiting for crashes.
Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru) had to battle more than the conditions. “The first lap everyone was down, it was just a mess, it was just stupid, I’m like ‘really people, you don’t have to shove and push’. I was on my bike and people that were running were shoving me and I’m like ‘come on’.”
And then the pedals would ice up. “I fell a lot and then it was just really hard to get into your pedals because they’d ice up so you’re basically riding on top of your pedals and on that kind of stuff, it doesn’t work because you need to have a smooth pedal stroke and you can’t have a smooth pedal stroke if you’re not clipped in. So, it was pretty disappointing because it was fun but people were just messy. One word: messy.”
Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill) also had trouble with the ice forming on her shoes. “The biggest problem is that I couldn’t get my feet into my pedals. You’d get to a section where you want to be pushing, your feet are just slipping and slipping. I found that people were able to catch up to me when I had to slow down. So there were some sections that I said okay I’ll just run some more and it just feels the shoes even more for the next section Unfortunately, that I think was my undoing. I struggled just kicking the pedals the whole time.”
The secret for such conditions for Bruno-Roy was staying smooth. “It’s slippery so you just have to stay in control and you just have to slow down a little. You can’t go aerobically, I don’t think any of us were dying out there because you couldn’t get into that sort of state so I think you had to calm down and keep it very smooth. Again, if you can’t get into your pedals you’re struggling. It was fun to ride, it wasn’t so bad but I wish I didn’t have any trouble with the shoes, the pedals but that’s how it is.”
But through it all, Butler also said that she had fun. “I felt good, it was fun. It was frustrating but it was fun. It was great riding, it was challenging but it was almost stupid, it was humorous. People were all over the place, I was riding that corner and people that were off their bikes were just shoving you. But you know it is what it is, it was a little bit fun.” She finished 19th.
Bruno-Roy finished right behind her in 20th. “I was 16th for a little while, I thought I could move up, I felt fine, I was fairly comfortable riding the snowy stuff.”
Though it was her birthday, it was not a good day for Meredith Miller (CalGiant). After suffering a mechanical which pushed her to last spot early on, she pulled out of the race.
Elite Women (Complete results)
1. Katherine Compton (USA) Planet Bike-Stevens Bikes 0:39:58
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit +00:54
3. Sanne van Paassen (Ned) BrainWash +01:29
4. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl +02:10
5. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) APB Cycling Team +02:11
19. Susan Butler (USA) Hudz-Subaru +07:25
20. Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles +07:36
-1lap Christine Vardaros (USA) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team
DNF Meredith Miller (USA) CalGiant