By Zack Vestal
After a challenging summer fraught with sponsorship problems, Katie Compton has her program back on the rails, just in time for cyclocross season.
For starters, she signed with Planet Bike as her primary sponsor. Then, a few weeks before opening weekend, a choice blend of product sponsorships fell into place, including Stevens Carbon Team frames; Zipp wheels, bars, and cranks; and SRAM Red drivetrain parts. Planet Bike gave the duo freedom to forage for supplementary sponsors, and they came up golden.
“It’s a dream sponsorship for us,” said husband Mark Legg-Compton.
Legg-Compton got the first batch of new Stevens carbon fiber bikes assembled and ready to race just last week. He stopped by VeloNews to show off Katie’s new bike and explain some of the component choices.
The powerful pair are very particular about bike setup, requiring perfect fit, durable components, and enough supply to last an entire two-continent ’cross season. Fortunately, their sponsorship package looks set to perform in every department.
Stevens frame sponsorship
The Stevens frame sponsorship grew from a casual conversation that started a few years back. At the time, Compton was reluctant to ride the bike, partly because the company lacked distribution in the United States, potentially causing supply issues.
But with Sinclair Imports acting as the new U.S. distributor for Stevens bikes, everything lined up perfectly this time around. Both Sinclair and Stevens will contribute frames to Compton’s program this season.
“A couple of weeks ago it all just came together,” said Legg-Compton.
And we’re talking a lot of bikes here. The two travel frequently to and from Europe, and it’s more cost-effective and efficient to have bikes parked in each location rather than fetching them along.
“The difficult thing for us, racing in Belgium, is that we need to leave three bikes there for Katie, and one for me,” said Legg-Compton. “Then we need two bikes here and one for me, and it adds up to a lot of bikes. But fortunately for Stevens they are used to dealing with teams and big riders, and it wasn’t a problem.”
In addition to meeting needs in terms of quantity, the Stevens frame also had to pass muster for geometry.
“Katie rides a forward position for power, which requires a steep seat angle,” said Legg-Compton. The Stevens Carbon Team frame turned out to be perfect, sealing the deal for the season.
SRAM, Zipp and Dugast
In addition to the new frames, Compton is getting extensive support from SRAM and Zipp in the form of Red drivetrain components, plus Zipp cranks, handlebars and 303 wheels.
Again, Legg-Compton said that the new parts had to meet his and her standards for performance and durability before the two adopted them. He tested a pair of 303s, banging them through the rough before deciding they were not only good enough, but actually advantageous.
In addition to durability, “there’s more traction, because of the wider rims, especially in sand,” he explained. “If you can’t ride sand in Belgium, you’re not racing.”
Finally, and possibly most impressively, Compton scored a coveted sponsorship from Dugast tires.
“She’s one of two athletes sponsored by Dugast this season,” said Legg-Compton. Both Dugast and Thorne Products (Stu Thorne’s new, exclusive U.S. Dugast distributorship) will supply tires to Compton.
It wouldn’t be a Katie Compton cyclocross bike without a few choice custom bits as well. Here are a few:
• The Zipp Vuma Quad cranks require four-bolt, 110mm-bolt-circle chainrings, which limits choice in chainring sizes. The solution? A custom 44-tooth titanium big chainring from WickWërks. The small ring is a 34-tooth from Zipp.
• Mark Legg-Compton devised a method for stabilizing the shoe/pedal interface on Compton’s Crank Brothers Quad Ti pedals: He puts Super Glue on them, then rolls them in sand for a grip-tape-like texture. “It really slows down that standing-on-ice feeling,” he said.
• And what do the KfC decal and tire stamp stand for? “Katie Fucking Compton.” Says Legg-Compton, “It started off as a joke: ‘Who won the race? Katie fuckin’ Compton.’ And it just kind of morphed into a funny nickname and joke. But I was like, we’re just going to run with this!”
Legg-Compton says Katie’s bike weighs just 15.1 pounds. Look for her to be flying at both CrossVegas tonight and during the opening round of the USGP September 27 in Madison, Wisconsin. All her new product sponsors will be present in Las Vegas to cheer her on, hopefully ushering in a great season.