VERONA, Wisconsin (VN) — Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) once again defended her U.S. women’s cyclocross crown on Sunday, seizing the lead on the first of four laps and staying away to the finish.
The two-mile circuit continued to change on Sunday, as it had throughout the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.
“It was really, really technical. I think it was the most technical course I’ve ridden, ever,” said Compton. “The ruts were freezing and changing every lap, freezing and thawing. So a line that was good one lap wasn’t good the next lap, and it was kind of hard to pick them.”
Technical writer Lennard Zinn described the terrain as “lava rock akin to what you would find on the Kona Coast.” With the sun shining and temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, there was a thin film of greasy mud on top of the frozen ruts.
Organizers worked to smooth out some of the worst bits following Saturday’s racing. However, conditions remained very variable along the rolling course, with some sections smoothed out and others just rubble.
Hard or soft, what was under her wheels made no difference to Compton. While Meredith Miller (California Giant-Specialized) grabbed the holeshot and Nicole Duke (Alchemy) took the early lead, it was the World Cup leader who quickly took command.
Compton and Duke briefly fought a drag race up the course’s long, steady climb — Compton riding right while Duke rode left — but it was on the long, sketchy descent that the Trek rider seized the day. She gapped the others and never looked back, soloing to victory in just over 43 minutes.
A surprisingly strong Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-Kelly Benefits) outfought Duke to take second at 1:18.
“It was such a technical course,” said Compton. “The gears were freezing, the cogs were getting stuck with mud. My pit crew was great. I’m really happy to win today because it was such a technical, hard course.”
Asked about the upcoming world championships in Kentucky, Compton said she planned to let her World Cup victory and ninth consecutive U.S. title soak in a bit before focusing on the rainbow jersey.
“Right now I’m going to go home and get some rest and training in,” she said. “I’ve had a great season. Worlds is icing on the cake. I’m going to be happy regardless. I’ve had a great season.”
Wilcoxson, meanwhile, praised her sponsor and supporters for her breakout podium finish, saying it involved “a lot of managing to stay upright and just hoping for the best.”
“I had good legs today but I crashed a couple of times as well. I was hoping it would come down to the road,” she said.
As for Duke — whose pit crew had to swap out a broken shifter while she was on course — she said she was happy to finish third after a tough race and a long, troubling season.
“That was pretty epic,” she said. “I knew if I could just stay steady on all the flats and the uphills that I had everyone on the downhills.
“I had such a difficult season that this was a really nice end to my season, and I’m really thankful for it. I’m really happy.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Verona.