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US Cyclocross Championships - CN

Providence, RI, USA, December 9-11, 2005

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Race 16 - December 11: Elite Women,  

Commentary by Steve Medcroft

Complete live report

13:17 EST   
Good afternoon world. Welcome to a sunny and picture-perfect New England winter day here in Providence. OUr live coverage of the Elite Women's race at the Liberty Mutual U.S. Cyclocross Natonal Championships will begin at 2:15pm Easter Standard Time; about one hour from now.

While we wait, here's a little background:

At forty degrees (Farenheit), the course has developed deceptive qualities today. It appears sloppy and muddy but to the touch, the ground underneath the mud is actually firm. The ruts that had been cut into the turf from something like 1,200 racers over the past two days are firm but hidden underneath an inch-thick layer of mud the consistency of something I'd rather not mention (but is usually indicative of illness).

Racing was exciting yesterday. In both the Elite men's and Elite U23 race, the defending champions were unseated. Interestingly enough, both champions fell to brothers from the same family.

U23 Jesse Anthony was going for his seventh natioal championship in a row but suffered a first-lap flat and lost position early. Although Anthony has always been dominant enough to recover from an early deficit, 2005 USGP U23 phenom Tory Wells stayed on the rivet at the front of the race and took the championship for himself.

In the Elite Men's race Jonathan Page was expected to repeat for his fourth championship. But after an intercontinental flight from Belgium, he picked up some food poisining and spent the night before the race being fed fluids intravenously. He said "I basically hadn't anything since seven Friday morning." Although he miraculously stayed in contact with the front two (Ryan Trebon and Todd Wells) he just couldnt match Wells' constant acceleration and finished third.

While you're waiting for the women's race to start, cruise on over to the race reports and excellent photography from Saturday (menu on the upper left).

13:36 EST   
On the racecourse right now is the Liberty Cup; an interesting format race organizers put together to showcase cyclocross. In the race is every male national champion from the weekend and a field of about 150 invited rider; every major name in U.S. 'cross.

Todd Wells is 40 seconds off the front. He is putting on an amazing display of preperation this weekend. Natural ability can only take you so far. Training can only take you so far. Desire can only take you so far. Nutrition and physical therapy can only take you so far. It is an amazing feat to put it all together at exactly the right moment. Wells deserves every good result that has come to him this weekend.

But despite Wells' dominance, the racer getting most attention from the rowdy crowd down at the beer garden is Canadian National Champion and the only woman in the race; Lyne Bessette. She's in the race at the promoter's invitation and riding smoothly somewhere deep in the field.

13:46 EST   
In preparation for the women's race, we spoke to Barb Howe as she was keeping warm in her van before taking the course for her warm up:

"I think it will be good. I've had a lot of fun riding around. It's a funny course ecause it's so long. We're probably only going to do like four laps. I'm going to try to be smooth and consistent. Keep my bike up."

Barb, who writes a diary for CN, says she'll be keeping her eye on Ann knapp, Georgia Gould, Rhonda Mazza among other.

13:52 EST   
We also spoke to Ann Knapp, the Kona-spopnsored former cyclocross national champion who is known for doing well in technical courses that feature a lot of running (as this one does):

"I haven't prepared a lot but I have prepared a little. I wasn't really sure if I was going to do 'cross this season and I can't take time off work without giving notice so I had to pick my travel races carefully. I rode the course on Friday in the pouring rain. I like the shape of the course. I like the flow of the course. It's well designed and has good ups and downs. There's some road, there's some running so I don't think it favors anybody."

About her chances, she said, "I'm going to participate to the best of my ability. I know I've been in better shape before. I'll do what I can."

13:58 EST   
We also caught up with Women's Master's 30-34 national champion Maureen Bruno-Roy:

"I'm feeling pretty good. I hear they changed the course a little bit (organizers cut a couple of dual-lane sections down to one lane and cleaned some turf damage). I feel like you can really get a rhythm on this course. There's a good mix of technical riding and road. It's really fun out there and I'm looking forward to it."

14:00 EST   
The rider that no-one has seen this weekend is defending national champion Katie Compton. Compton came from the back row to upset the favorites and take last year's race after racing all season in local (Colorado) men's races. We have heard nothing about her condition, her preperations or her plans for the race but she's on the start list and you can be sure that she knows she won;t be able to hide in obscurity this year.

It should an exciting race.

14:05 EST   
Wells just won the Liberty Cup. He commented that the course is "full of ruts and way sketchier than yesterday."

Tim Johnson took second. Adam Craig, his entire front side covered in mud, took third. Mark McCormack and Erik Tonkin rounded out the podium.

Lyne Bessette pulled out after three laps; happy to get in a solid training ride.

14:07 EST   
Just because we know there are Armed Forces fans checking in from around the world, your Armed Forces Champion Michael Gallagher finished eigth.

14:21 EST    1mins/39mins to go
The Elite women are off. Marueen (Mo) Bruno-Roy has the lead and Ann Knapp is grabbing her wheel. The field is stretchig out behind them.

14:22 EST   
Katie Compton, because she didn't enter any UCI races and recieved no UCI points, started back in the bunch and will have to work her way through a field that knows who she is and won't let a race with her in the lead develop to win.

14:26 EST   
Compton, of course, doesn't enter UCI races because she competes in the Paralympics as the pilot to a blind track-racing tandem team. Paralympics rules prohibit competition in any UCI event.

14:26 EST   
Compton has worked her way through the field and is in front of the race. Only Ann Knapp is staying with her. The pair have gapped Bruno-Roy.

14:31 EST   
Through the first lap, Compton is in the lead. Knapp is 16 seconds behind. Bruno-Roy is at 25 seconds. There's huge gap to fourth place.

14:34 EST   
Barbra Howe is off the back of the lead three, about a minute behind Compton. Two truly amazing efforts have set the tone for this Elite race. Katie Compton's unbelievable performance in the first half of the first lap - to pull herself through the crowds to get to the front of the race despite thirty rider's efforts to hold her back and Maureen Bruno-Roy's blistering pace setting that stretched the women's field into a long, twisted string from the gun.

14:36 EST    15mins/25mins to go
Ann Knapp, mouth wide open, is trying her best to close the gap to Compton in the technical sections but Compton is focused and powerful on the flatter sections of the course and the gap continues to hold.

14:41 EST    19mins/21mins to go
Katie Compton has blown this race apart. The second of five laps is complete and she has opened up 35 seconds on Knapp and more than a minute back to hurtigng Bruno-Roy.

14:42 EST    22mins/18mins to go
Rhonda Mazza has managed to recover from the early effort and get onto the wheel of Bruno-Roy setting up a fight for fourth on the course.

14:43 EST    23mins/17mins to go
Melissa Thomas is sitting fifth with Barbara Howe and Georgia Gould together about thirty seconds back.

14:48 EST   
During an interview last year, Compton said "I was on the junior national team and raced a little bit at the elite level, in college and right after. I raced mountain bikes for an east coast team (Trek/VW Regional) but mostly I did track and road and tried to hit the biggest races on the east coast I could get to. I did some ‘cross too."

14:50 EST   
Compton lives in Colorado Springs and is racing in Redline gear today. Coming through the start/finish line, she has one lap to go (I must have been off in my lap counts previously) She is splattered with mud like all riders have been today but not as dirty as many of the women in the race. Her head is down, her hands are in the drops and her eyes are laser-focused on the road in front of her.

14:52 EST    30mins/10mins to go
Knapp is though the start/finish. She is out of the saddle, working the bike to pick up any speed and momentum she can to get on Compton's wheel but at this point, since she is at least a minute back, only fate could put Knapp in front of Compton.

14:53 EST    32mins/8mins to go
Mazza and Bruno-Roy are still dueling for third, a minte back of Knapp.

14:54 EST    34mins/6mins to go
Compton is getting safer and safer by the moment. Through the most technical sections of the course, there is nothing but daylight between her and a repeat national championship.

In the battle for third, Bruno-Roy has managed to gap Mazza after Mazza took a couple of momentum-killing spills on the firm and slick course.

14:56 EST    35mins/5mins to go
Mazza seems to have been shaken by the course and Bruno-Roy has capitalized; openning a hundred-meter gap on the Team S&M/Vanilla Bikes rider.

15:00 EST    38mins/2mins to go
Compton has done it; back-to-back national championships. She looks breathless and relieved as she crosses the finish line. In her one and only Elite Women's race of the season, she wins the national championship.

Who needs a front-row call-up. Indeed!

15:01 EST   
Knapp has just come through for the silver medal.

At the finsh, Compton says she hopes to keep coming back and create a dynasty in U.S. women's 'cross.

15:01 EST   
The battle for third, between Bruno-Roy and Rhonda Mazza is heading for the final straight. Bruno-Roy, a former Siogneur for Saturn, is leading.

15:06 EST    40mins/0mins to go
Bruno-Roy has won the bronze medal.

Fourth, Rhonda Mazza
Fifth, Melissa Thomas
Sixth, Barbara Howe
Seventh, Georgia Gould
Eigth, Brigette Stoick
Ninth, Amy Wallace
Tenth, Josie Beggs

15:09 EST   
Thanks for tuning into Cyclingnews for live coverage of the 2005 U.S. Cyclocross National Championships from Providence, Rhode Island. We're signing off so we can go catch the Elite women at the podium and get their reactions and comments to today's exciting race.

Tune back later tonight for a full race report, results and camera-loads of pictures from Ed Collier, Marek Lazarski and Keli Medcroft.

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