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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (VN) — Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant Offroad) overpowered the field to claim the Derby City Cup on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky.
The seven-time U.S. national champion found herself with a slight advantage over a small lead group and decided to exploit it, pulling away on the pavement at the close of the first lap and riding her own race to the finish.
“I thought it would stay together a lot more. It’s such a fast course and the turns are pretty quick,” Compton told VeloNews. “But all the quick back and forth, you can get a couple bike lengths back. I saw Katerina (Nash) was sitting third or fourth wheel and there was a little gap on the pavement finishing the first lap so I figured I would kind of accelerate down the start-finish stretch and make her work for it.”
It was a windy day on the rolling circuit at Eva Bandman Park during the third round of the 2011 Exergy U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series.
As she’d already done twice before this season, Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) grabbed the holeshot on the long, paved straightaway start with French national champion Caroline Mani (CC Etupes) on her wheel.
“I’ve been going off the front hard all season and I’ve learned that I need to sit up and let somebody else take over from the beginning,” Duke told VeloNews. “It was kind of like a road race — a lot of straightaways, a lot of wind and constant pedaling — it was definitely an advantage to be on a wheel.”
Mani took the front going into the barriers, with Compton and series leader Nash (Luna) comfortably among the frontrunners. Georgia Gould (Luna), a constant podium presence on the 2011 USGP circuit, was well back in the field, but her popular #heckleme campaign on Twitter had her taking more cheers — and jeers — than her competitors.
Mani led out of the woods, and at the end of lap one there were five women — Mani, Nash, Duke, Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale) and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) — strung out in a line, with Compton already well off the front and Mani leading the chase.
“I wasn’t really planning on getting that kind of gap early,” said Compton. “Once you have it, you don’t want to lose it. It’s easy to make a mistake out there — flat or crash or something like that — and lose it pretty fast.”
When asked if she began to turn her focus toward preparation for other objectives as the gap approached 30 seconds and more, Compton said no.
“I was feeling pretty good today so I just wanted to keep on it. And Katerina could have come back too. I never know — she’s riding so well this year.”
As for Nash, she said she wasn’t at her best on Saturday.
“I didn’t have it today,” she told VeloNews. When Compton slipped around and began opening a gap, Nash said, she tried to follow, but her seatpost slipped during a remount atop the flyover.
“So I had to go into the pits — and at that point, she was gone,” she said. “But I don’t think I was much of a contender today.”
After a full mountain bike season and a prosperous start to the fall, Nash said she would take a break after the weekend with an eye toward the series finale in Bend and the final month of the season.
Next time across the line Compton was out of sight — Mani and Nash were already 18 seconds back at the end of lap two as Compton slashed her way through the wind.
With three laps to go Compton was extending her advantage. She sat in the saddle, eyes focused down the track, churning out a smooth pace over the fast Ohio River course.
Nash was 27 seconds back with Mani just behind and Antonneau closing in.
Compton was out of the saddle and powering across the line as she shot into the bell lap. Mani and Nash were an astounding 40 seconds behind with Antonneau perhaps a further 10 seconds down.
The Indianapolis-based U23 national champion was charging up on the podium riders, spurned on by her mom and friends trackside.
On the final lap Mani hit the ground, slamming her right arm hard, and Nash took off.
“Kaitlin was so close to us, I didn’t even look back,” said Nash. “I just kept going.”
Antonneau closed to within 10 seconds of the Czech winner of the second round of this year’s World Cup, but neither would catch Compton. She hit the line alone, throwing her hands in the air. Nash crossed 30 seconds back with Antonneau third another dozen seconds behind.
Antonneau was delighted to have made the podium and Compton, her coach, greeted her with a high-five and a hug beyond the finish.
“I made a lot of mistakes on the first two laps, but I’d rather do that than make them on the last two,” she said. “It felt good. I’m so happy.”
Compton was equally delighted at her protégée’s performance.
“That’s awesome, I was so excited. I think I’m more excited for her than me,” said Compton. “She’s still young — she’s 19 — and she’s got really good skills and a great head on her shoulders, and she works really hard and she’s a really fast learner. I think she’s got a lot of great years in front of her.”
Mani came through for fourth ahead of Chloe Forsman (Crank Bros.), fell to the road beside a barrier and stayed there, clutching her right arm. Race personnel ushered her to medical staff, her right wrist blackened, skin torn.
A representative from SRAM told VeloNews Saturday night that Mani “does not believe she fractured her hand.” The French champion is bruised and walking with a limp, but believes she is without serious injuries.
Online editor at large Patrick O’Grady contributed to this report.
- 1. Katherine Compton (USA), Rabobank-Giant, at 45:11:00
- 2. Katerina Nash (CZE), Luna Pro Team, at 31
- 3. Kaitlin Antonneau (USA), Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, at 41
- 4. Caroline Mani (FRA), CC Etupes, at 1:05
- 5. Chloe Forsman (USA), Crank Brothers Race Club 11, at 1:19