On Monday in Austin, Texas, Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing) went to 11.
Compton’s victory in the U.S. elite women’s national cyclocross championship was an unprecedented 11th straight title.
Sure, she seemed a little shaky after a weak start, but after one lap of racing, it was clear that no one would rival the defending champ.
“Honestly I just had to be a lot more conservative today,” Compton said. “I wasn’t feeling awesome, wasn’t sure if I went out too hard if it would come back to get me. I knew I couldn’t go too deep too soon.
“It’s so easy to make a mistake and lose time. You never know with mechanicals, and how conditions change.”
Young Ellen Noble (JAM Fund) took the holeshot on the paved start straight.
Compton had a terrible start after slipping a pedal, and was forced to fight through the field, sitting barely inside the top 10.
Ahead, Arley Kemmerer (PB2 Pro Cycling) had moved to the front ahead of Noble and had a slight lead midway through the first lap. Rachel Lloyd (California Giant-Specialized) led the charge with a small group in tow, including Georgia Gould (Luna) and Compton.
After the first lap, Compton had worked her way through the lead group and was off the front with Lloyd chasing alone. A group of three — Crystal Anthony (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), and Gould were next on course, fighting for third.
“Once I was on the front I tried to focus and not make too many mistakes,” Compton said. “I loved the fact that it was techy and hard, a lot of time on and off the bike. I can make up a bit of time on that.”
Before long, the gaps between riders began to grow, with Antonneau riding away from her rivals and Lloyd in her sights.
As Lloyd faded, Antonneau surged and caught her 40-year-old rival. Behind, Anthony and Gould chased in fourth and fifth.
On the course’s steepest descent, Lloyd suffered a heavy crash, landing on her shoulder and head. That gave Antonneau the chance she needed to solidify her second-place position.
“I just tried to stay patient and go strong in the running sections,” said Antonneau. “I think she made a mistake and that was all that I needed.”
Gould, having dispatched Anthony, could see the bronze medal, not far ahead, as Lloyd struggled to regain her composure after the crash.
However, the California Giant-Specialized rider, who was stricken with illness in the lead-up to nationals, held on to finish third, behind Antonneau and Compton. Gould retained fourth, and Anthony was fifth.
Noble finished sixth, and that was enough to earn her the under-23 national championship title, which was contested concurrently during the women’s elite race.
“It feels good to win. I was a little bit more stressed than I usually am. Mostly my lungs aren’t functioning as well as they usually do,” Compton said.
Asked about the upcoming world championships, Compton said, “I’m hoping for a podium in Tabor. … If I can race and have a good race, and just feel well, I’ll be happy with that.”
Chris Case contributed to this report from Austin.