Last Saturday, Meredith Miller finally cracked the top 10 at a UCI Cyclocross World Cup when she finished a strong sixth in Tabor, Czech Republic. Since the start of her cyclocross racing career five years ago, the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized rider’s highest finish had been 11th, twice in 2012.
“Wow, I’m super stoked to have had such an awesome day. I knew pre-riding the day before that if I had good legs, I could have a good result.” Miller said. “It was a fantastic day for the Americans with Katie (Compton), Kaitie (Antonneau), Arley (Kemmerer) and myself all finishing in the top 15. And it was a day I’ve been waiting for for a long time.”
Not only did Miller have her best result on her career – so far – but four American women placed in the top 15, including race winner, USA Cyclocross Champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective).
After a somewhat disappointing result at the first World Cup in Valkenburg the previous Sunday where she finished 17th, Miller rested and adjusted to the jetlag. All to prepare for Saturday’s race on a course well-suited to her skills and engine.
“It was a ‘roadie’ course – non-technical and big power. But, I also know this course pretty well as I have raced on it twice before – 2010 Worlds and the World Cup in 2011.” Miller placed 12th on the same course in icy conditions at the 2010 Cyclocross World Championships and 14th in 2011. She had to miss the World Cup last year due to a broken hand sustained at the Providence Cyclocross Festival.
“The course was mostly dry. There were one or two places that were a little slippery but mostly it was straight forward. The climbs on this course are long and dragging on grass. The two hardest sections were after the stairs and barriers where we kept climbing up tough climbs straight after remounting. It was all about getting back in your pedals quickly and them stomping on the pedals to get back up to speed.”
She used the sections after the stairs and the long climbs at the top of the course to pick off riders as she surged up from her second-row start.
“I lined up behind Lucie (Chainel). She missed her pedal so we were off the front right away. I made up some places but still was only in the top 15. Luckily there was nothing too technical to open gaps right away so I was able to make up some places quickly. Then as we ticked off the laps I could see people dying in front of me and I was feeling good. I knew if I could keep the pressure on the pedals I would ride into the top 10.”
With three laps to go, Miller had surged to ninth place and kept on moving up. “With one lap to go, Christel (Ferrier-Bruneau) and I were riding together when we caught Sanne Cant. Just before making the u-turn to head back up the hill I tried to shift into my big chain ring. My chain fell off and a gap opened up. I didn’t have enough to catch them, but I was so close to racing for 4th.” she exclaimed.
Miller is now back in the United States and looking forwards to the rest of the season. “It certainly takes a little pressure off but also makes me want to push for more.”