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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (VN) – Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) won day two of the New Belgium Cup on Sunday in Fort Collins, Colorado. The win broke Katerina Nash’s (Luna) unbeaten streak this fall and set Compton up for her first European assignment of the season.
The win was rewarding for Compton, but came in a way she hadn’t hoped for.
Caroline Mani (CC Etupes) took the holeshot to lead out a blistering first lap that saw eight riders emerge at the front of the race. Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), who said she was battling mental fatigue this weekend, put her old gravity skills to work on the long, off-camber descent to the base of the course and took control. Heading past the pits Saturday’s top two — Exergy U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series leader Katerina Nash (Luna) and Compton — had latched on.
Nash joked after the race that she needed another cappuccino before the start.
The pace was too high for a number of women, among them Georgia Gould (Luna) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale), and a five-woman group shot through the start-finish for the start of lap two. Nash was on the point with Compton on her wheel and Duke third.
Nash and Compton took a slight lead over Duke, who led Mical Dyck (Pro City Racing), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized), French champion Caroline Mani and Sue Butler (River City-Ridley) going into the barrier section. When Duke put a foot down in the 180-degree corner leading to the flyover, the elastic snapped and the two leaders were gone. Nash extended their lead to seven seconds as they circled around the low end of the course and hit the long climb.
Compton and Nash were nearly out of sight half a lap later. Compton seized the lead on the next go-round, jumping away on the flyover, ripping the descent and attacking hard on the hill leading to the barriers. Nash hung tough, though.
“On that course it really helped to lead from the front,” said Compton. “The corners are so fast and it’s easier to attack on this course from the front.”
Behind, Miller had moved into third, accelerating away from Dijk and Duke at the pits. Miller came back from a disappointing race Saturday and nailed the increasingly tacky track all afternoon.
“I don’t know what happened yesterday; I just had a bad day,” said Miller. “I was more confident today and my head was really in it.”
Compton attacked on the backside hill, too, taking a handful of seconds over her rival at midrace and rocketing alone through the start-finish line, hunkered down in the drops. But Nash stayed within striking distance, hovering a half-dozen seconds behind the U.S. national champion.
“I put in a small attack to test the legs, but she closed it up in a hurry,” said Compton.
Compton rode the descents on Sunday in the drops, differing from her usual technique of steering from the tops, using her top-mounted brake levers in the corners. She said the different geometry involved in moving from Stevens to Giant had her experimenting.
“I was trying to stay in the drops more also to accelerate out of the corners more quickly,” she said. “The feeling is totally different and I’m just getting used to it.”
With two laps to go Compton clung to a handful of seconds’ advantage over the series leader. She continued to charge along, out of the saddle with hands in the drops, but Nash wouldn’t roll over and play dead.
In fact, she was closing in on Compton — and with a lap and a half to go she caught the Rabobank rider, just before the flyover. At the barriers they remained locked together; at the pits, likewise.
And at the pavement, going into the bell lap, it was still Compton on the front, Nash on the wheel. Compton was climbing well and planned to attack Nash hard on the final climb from the base of the course.
She wouldn’t get that chance. At the base of the 150-meter, two-track dirt climb to the barriers Nash dropped her chain. When Compton looked back for the Czech champion, she was gone.
“It was really unfortunate timing,” said Compton. “I would have liked to have tried to attack her on one of the hills near the end.”
Compton was racing toward the win with a half lap to go. Nash was 16 seconds back at the barriers, while Miller was fighting hard to hold onto third place.
Compton hit the pavement alone, thrusting both fists skyward. It was her first UCI win in two tries this fall after delaying the start of her ’cross season to better prepare for January’s world championships.
“I was so happy to have better legs today,” said Compton. “It’s a good start. I know what I need to work on.”
When asked what work she needed, Compton smiled and said, “Fitness, skills and running. You know, a bunch of things.”
Nash held on for second at 29 seconds back, waving to the crowd as she crossed the line. It was her first loss of the season after sweeping through CrossVegas, the early rounds of the Cross After Dark series and the first three days of the USGP.
“It was going to happen sooner or later, that’s racing,” said Nash. “It’s better to have Katie here, she makes the racing harder. Without that kind of competition, we’re never going to get better.”
Likewise, Miller held onto third in front of her hometown crowd. Mani closed on her in the last half lap, but Miller said the crowd carried her to the finish.
“I heard my name all around the course today. It was amazing,” said Miller. “It helped me keep my momentum. I couldn’t let them down after that.”
Stay tuned for photos.
- 1. Katherine Compton, (USA) Rabobank, 41:56:00
- 2. Katerina Nash, (CZE) Luna Pro Team, at 0:35
- 3. Meredith Miller, (USA) California Giant Cycling, at 1:24
- 4. Caroline Mani, (FRA) CC Etupes, at 1:30
- 5. Mical Dyck, (CAN) Pro City Racing, at 1:37