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Tough day for one of the pre-race favorites, Katie Compton at the Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium on Sunday. The goal was the rainbow stripes for the American who has come so very close in the past but she had to settle for fifth place. For others, that would have been a great result but it was a disappointment for the eight-time American Cross Champion.
“I just didn’t have it today. I missed my pedal, I couldn’t find it and then I crashed on the turn, lost a bunch of spots.” Compton said quietly after the race ended.
Twelfth after the holeshot, the crash on the turn before the pit and the bike change pushed her even further back, to 16th after the first lap. At the front, eventual Marianne Vos of the Netherlands was off solo.
But then, Compton put in two blazing fast laps, to surge back up to the chase group and sit second at 34 seconds from Vos. It was tough work to move up. “A lot of it was getting stuck behind people so it was hard to ride a lot of it, sand was hard and today was hard. ”
For the final two laps, Compton was locked in a four-way battle for second place, but the chase might have burned too many matches and she could not cover the final attack. Throughout it all, Compton fought until the end.
“I never gave up.” she said. “It’s hard to ride in the fourth spot, I got pinched a couple of times and I couldn’t get it back.”
Happy freshman. American Nicole Duke also had a bad start. “I had the most horrible start of the season, I just could not get into my pedals and then I did and came out again, I was almost last and so I just tried to gain a little bit back before the first big hill. I tried to pace myself because I knew that if I went too hard in the beginning, I would blow up.”
But then, she actually started to have fun in the sand and moved up to 16th spot with two laps to go. “Once I knew that I had it and that I was comfortable and I saw everyone else around me kind of struggling, it gave me a little bit more confidence and I started moving up. I started to fade the last lap, I think a few people passed me.”
Duke crossed the line in 19th place and stated that though the course was difficult, it wasn’t as hard as she expected it to be. “I just had the worst in mind because practice was really hard. Practice to me was so intense that I was thinking that the race was going to be beyond that and so yeah, it wasn’t too bad and I got into my groove. I actually did have fun and I was looking forwards to certain sections, it wasn’t bad.”
She concluded with a laugh, “And I’m happy with my freshman outing at Worlds, next year will be like a piece of cake right.”
As hard as it gets for Miller. After a good start placing in the top 10, the course took its toll on Meredith Miller. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You want to go harder but you can’t because you know if you go harder in one section, you’re going to blow it in the next section. You have to have a little bit left, a little momentum to get into the sand sections, it’s tough. Pre-riding I was riding the sand sections and then you get in the race and every lap, your fatigue starts to set in and then it’s just, I was running, not really trying to ride much.”
For Miller, the course was made even tougher because it was the first time she had even seen or raced at Koksijde. And pre-riding is not enough time to figure it out. “The days of pre-riding, I wasn’t actually really going race pace because I wanted to try to save everything for today. Of course today was much harder than anything I’ve ridden the past couple of days.”
“I came here without any expectations, finished 20th, was hoping for better than that in the back of my mind but it is what it is. I did what I could out there and that was it.” added Miller who finished 20th.
Dombroski happy. Forced to miss the USA National Championships due to sickness, Amy Dombroski was satisfied with her 23rd place.
“I’m happy with it considering a few weeks ago I didn’t know if I’d be riding. You always want to be further up but I have to think where I was a few weeks ago so I’m happy with it.” she said.
Dombroski kept a steady pace throughout the race. “That course is going to be hard for everyone, I was happy technically with how I’ve been riding, I just wish that I had a bit more power in my legs but that’s going to come.”
The fifth American in the race, U23 Cross National Champion Kaitie Antonneau finished 26th.