Editor’s note: The January 2013 issue of Velo magazine, which is on newsstands now, is our 25th annual awards issue. Our 2012 Cyclist of the Year was announced on November 29; we’ll be rolling out various other award winners throughout the month of December.
If you’re Georgia Gould, there are two ways to look at the 2012 season. On the one hand, she earned bronze medals at both the Olympics and world championship and defended her national cross-country championship. On the other hand, she had a devastating spell in June, watching back-to-back World Cup wins slip through her fingers due to late-race incidents.
Gould, who has never won a World Cup, cramped while in the lead at the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, finishing just 23 seconds behind world champion Catharine Pendrel. A week later, at the World Cup in Windham, New York, Gould jumped out to take an early lead, which she held for all but the final kilometer. Just as race announcers claimed she had the win in the bag, she suffered an untimely puncture that left her struggling to finish the final lap, with Pendrel and teammate Katerina Nash, of the Czech Republic, passing her in the final 25 meters.
Gould headed to London confident in her ability but rattled by her experiences. This time, when she crossed the finish line in tears, they were tears of joy, as an Olympic medalist. It was a hard-earned medal for the 32-year-old Baltimore native, who started poorly on the Hadleigh Farm course and had to fight her way from mid-pack on the first lap to make the select front group.
Fast-forward to the world cross-country championship in September in Austria. As she did in London, France’s Julie Bresset took a commanding victory. And as she did in London, Gould battled for a coveted podium finish, to make it a pair of bronzes at the two biggest races on the calendar.
“The last few years I’ve had some ups and downs, so to have everything come together this year was just really satisfying,” Gould told Velo. “That’s the overwhelming thing. You work and do all this stuff, everything builds every year, and you hope that things are going to pay off on the right day, but you never know. So, this year, while I did have some bad luck in a few of the World Cups, the important things, which are my fitness and my handling skills, that was all on track. To be able to have podium rides at the two biggest races of the season and defend my national championship, it was my best season so far.”