Katie Compton (Planet Bike) and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) solo’d to victories at the Blue Sky Velo “Haunted Cross,” the first day of Colorado’s North American Cyclocross Trophy weekend. The three musketeers of the Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com team swept the podium, with Jeremy Powers finishing second and Jamey Driscoll third.
Aften a big snow storm mid-week, the sun came out on Saturday to make for ideal spectator weather and epic, muddy ’cross racing conditions.
By the time the women’s race began, it was hard to believe that just a couple days ago there was over a foot of snow on the ground at the Xilinx course in Longmont. Early in the day, the amateur riders had to slosh around in almost unrideable conditions. By 2:10pm, the start of the elite women’s race, a fast line or two had been ridden into place, while some sections still remained slick and unpredictable.
The start line for the course was at the bottom of a small but taxing hill. Alison Dunlap (Luna) grabbed the hole shot and forced teammate Georgia Gould and Compton to chase. But by the halfway point of the first lap Compton had pulled away from Gould and Dunlap was chasing. In the same lap, Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms) stuck close on the wheel of Amy Dombroski (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches). Miller’s tight position proved to be a mistake heading into a twisting mud section, and she crashed lightly and lost a few valuable places. Miller shortly caught up to Dombroski and made a pass that stuck for the remainder of the race.
By the second lap, Compton had a 22-second lead over Gould, and Gould had a gap of about 27 seconds on Dunlap. The gap continued to grow and Compton had no intention of slowing the pace.
Compton finished the race about two minutes ahead of Gould. In third was Dunlap followed by Miller, who had battled most of the race with Kelli Emmett (Giant), who finished fifth.
After the race Compton said, “I was planning on waiting a few laps and then Alison took the lead. Georgia was bridging up so I went with her.”
The mud proved to be good practice for Compton, who spends most of the year racing muddy courses in Europe. “Technically I rode well,” said Compton. “I rode a smart race in the mud and taking bike changes. I brought three bikes today.” Compton leaves for Europe on Wednesday. She said she was happy about the conditions because they are similar to those at the Nommay World Cup.
In the men’s race, Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) and Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) were noticeably absent. Trebon is recovering from a crash last weekend and was not ready for race efforts.
In the first lap Powers and Johnson rode off the front. Johnson quickly built a gap over Powers that only grew for the remainder of the race.
Driscoll, meanwhile, struggled further back in the field. But by about the third lap Driscoll had bridged up to Powers with mountain biker Adam Craig (Giant) within striking distance.
With six laps remaining, it looked as if Craig was going to successfully bridge up to the green and black duo. But the teammates were just biding their time and began to challenge each other as the last few laps came into view.
Behind Craig, the field was in serious discomfort. Whether it was the altitude, the mud, or watching Johnson put in over two minutes on fourth place by the halfway point, most riders looked painfully demoralized pedaling up the hill through the finishing straight.
Troy Wells (Clif Bar) rode in fifth position for almost the whole race, followed by Jesse Anthony (Jamis), Jeremy Horgan Kolbelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Danny Summerhill (5280).
Johnson finished over a minute ahead of his teammates, Driscoll and Powers, who came in in that order. Craig and Wells finished shortly after.
Johnson said, “I felt awesome. The course was awesome. It’s the first time I’ve been on a course in Colorado with true mud, grass and off-camber stuff. This course was up, down, fast and turny — it had everything. It was really a great race.”
On team tactics Johnson said, “The way that we want to race is that we want to race the races. You don’t want to see a race where everyone is kind of rolling around and it doesn’t look like a real race. We race each other. We’re going at it. When you’re alone off the front you can choose your line. When you race with people you compromise your line. It’s always faster to ride alone.”
Because of the snow, Sunday’s Boulder Cup has been moved from Boulder’s Harlow Platts park to the Boulder Reservoir.
No it wasn’t Star Crossed, but there were plenty of road racing stars in the audience. Even if a lot of roadies don’t race ’cross, they still enjoy watching it.
Race spectators included Phil Zajicek (Fly V), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream), Ted King (Cervelo) and Frank Pipp (Bissell). Alex Howes (Felt-Holowesko) was working the pits and VeloNews’ own Lennard Zinn was spraying down mud-soaked bikes for a long line of riders.
Brad White, Johnson’s OUCH-Maxxis teammate during the road season, lined up wearing the kit of the local Hudz-Subaru team.