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U.S. Cycling This Week: Compton opens against Nash in Fort Collins

Editor’s Note: Video of this weekend’s USGP races in Colorado will be streamed live on VeloNews.com. Please visit velonews.com/live to see all the action. We also will have full coverage (words, photos and results) from the Providence Cyclocross Festival.

2010 New Belgium Cup
Nash and Compton battled in Fort Collins in 2010. Photo: Wil Matthews

This weekend is a transcontinental battle of the elite cyclocrossers with the split of the USGP of Cyclocross New Belgium Cup running up against the Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike. A result of the calendar revamp that tore some promoters apart last December, both events will hold C1 races on Saturday, the world’s top classification short of the World Cup. World championship silver medalist Katie Compton (Rabobank) will open her 2011-12 campaign in Colorado on Saturday.

A number of stories mark the women’s races at what should be a cool, muddy New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins, Colorado, this weekend. Series second-place Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) and Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized) are hometown heroes looking to tick up the podium in Fort Collins. The last time series leader Katerina Nash (Luna) got the better of Compton, it was the cold, sloppy day one in Northern Colorado in 2010. Chief among the storylines heading into the weekend is Compton’s season-opening start.

In the first of two days in Fort Collins last year, Compton and Nash battled for almost 40 minutes before a misstep in the pits by the former allowed Nash to open a gap that Compton could not close. The California-based Czech rider said she felt smooth in the snowy, treacherous conditions and the result gave her the confidence to carry into the World Cup and world championships, where she finished just behind Compton for bronze.

“It was a good day for me,” Nash told VeloNews. “I just had a little bit of luck in the race and was really comfortable riding on the muddy course out there. It was one of those days where things are really working out for me and not the others.”

Compton and her husband/mechanic Mark, on the other hand, were very disappointed with the race. She came back the next day to top Nash and split the weekend. That race — and the preceding Boulder Cup, where Compton dropped out after crashing and Gould won — are a distant memory for Compton.

“With racing in general I try to move on as quickly as possible,” Compton told VeloNews.

The Colorado Springs-based national cyclocross champion took a month off racing following the world mountain bike championships in August. Mountain bike season was up-and-down for Compton and she looked forward to getting back onto the circuit last week. She’ll fly to the Czech Republic late next week ahead of the opening round of the World Cup. While she acknowledged that every 40-minute go-around on the ’cross bike is an “uphill battle,” Compton said she would arrive to Fort Collins with her eyes set squarely on just one outcome.

“I’m definitely motivated and ready to race,” said Compton. “I look at every race I start as, ‘I can win this race and how can I do that.’ I don’t race for second or third; if I can win I will.”

Nash has only experienced the “up” this fall, winning every UCI race she’s entered thus far, including the season’s first C1 event, CrossVegas. Compton called the Luna tandem the riders to beat on the USGP this year. After the opening round in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, her prediction looks to be spot on. Nash ran away with both races at the Planet Bike Cup with Gould following through for second.

“Katie’s an amazing racer, but she’s still only a human being,” said Nash. “It’s not easy to beat her, but it’s the step I need to take in order to be even more competitive on the World Cup. If I can get closer to Katie, it means I’m moving up.”

Unlike 2010, there shouldn’t be any snow on the ground Saturday in Fort Collins, but Nash will be hunting the same result she enjoyed to open the New Belgium Cup last year. Compton, on the other hand, will try to keep Nash behind her and open what she hopes to be the season she finally gets that world title that has dodged her for half a decade.

New Belgium Cup – Fort Collins, Colorado
October 8-9 2:45 p.m. (women) / 4:00 p.m. (men)
40 min. (women) / 60 min. (men)
*USGP of Cyclocross
*UCI C1 Saturday, C2 Sunday

Providence Cyclocross Festival – Providence, Rhode Island
October 8-9 2:30 p.m. (women) / 3:30 p.m. (men)
40 min. (women) / 60 min. (men)
*Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series
*UCI C1 Saturday, C2 Sunday

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