Before the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky, Luna rider Katerina Nash was hesitant to make predictions on whether or not she could return from a nagging back injury in time to contend for the podium at the 2013 elite cyclocross world championships in February.
The weekend of racing at the fifth and sixth rounds of the Trek U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross went a long way to answering that question.
The California-based Czech rider told VeloNews on Friday that she wasn’t willing to set goals until she had tested herself after a prolonged break from racing that saw her miss her home rounds of the World Cup in October. Nash passed that test at Eva Bandman Park, finishing second to Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) on both days, ahead of teammate Georgia Gould and newly-crowned European champion Helen Wyman (Kona-FSA). The results made it five races in a row that Nash finished second to Compton, dating back to the previous week’s treble at the Cincinnati festival, and afterward she confirmed that a string of good rides was all she needed to get her confidence back.
“I was going to base the rest of the season on how I feel these two weekends, and now that I’m already feeling healthy but I’m also doing really well, it’s good,” Nash said Sunday afternoon.
She just recently returned to racing after a pinched nerve that caused shooting pain down her back took her off the bike.
“I’ve just been riding my bike a lot, which has been fun,” said Nash, who is just beginning to work intensity into her training well into a cyclocross season that has seen her absent since it began.
Nash admits that she still has a lot of work to do, but said that her double-podium in Louisville gave her confidence that she can be at top strength for worlds.
She did, however, find that she couldn’t hold power and make accelerations throughout the course of a 40-minute race, and she noticed that her laps felt slower toward the end.
“I feel like I’ve been starting well, but I just don’t have that top end, and I’m really missing that at the end of the races,” she said. “I have to understand that. I haven’t done any intervals in a while, so I just have to start preparing more specifically for cyclocross now.”
Wyman listed the Czech woman as one of her favorites to see on the worlds podium, and couldn’t imagine that Nash wouldn’t have time to reach peak form before early February.
“She’s got a lot of time until worlds and she’ll be fresher than everyone else,” Wyman told VeloNews. “I really don’t see any reason why she can’t get on the podium.”