US Cyclo-cross Championships - CN
Kansas City, Kansas, USA, December 13-16, 2007
Results & report
Race 13 - December 16: Elite Women
Complete live report
Live commentary by Laura Weislo and Mark Zalewski
Good day and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the USA Cycling Elite Cyclo-cross National Championships from Kansas City, Kansas. After a wintry week of ice storms and snow, the weather has cleared but hasn't warmed up much. It's still below freezing, making the course hard and rutted from the previous races this week.
First up we've got the Elite Women's race starring Katie Compton and Georgia Gould, our major contenders, who begin at 1PM EST. They'll be followed by the men at 2PM where we'll see if Ryan Trebon can handle the cold, or if Tim Johnson or Jonathan Page will use their mad skills to take the stars and stripes.
Our man on the tundra, Mark Zalewski, spoke with Compton as she was preparing for the race, and found out that she is feeling "much, much better" than she felt in Portland earlier this month. She caught a bug in Belgium, but has since recovered, and hopes her riding will match how she feels.
Compton is most worried about Gould, the winner of the US Gran Prix, as well as Rachel Lloyd, who Compton said is quite strong on the technical courses. Compton said that a good start will be key today, and that is her focus for the moment.
There have been a few races already this morning, and the lap times were considerably faster than previous days, where thick, gloppy mud bogged riders down. The bitterly cold overnight temperatures hardened the ground, but now that the sun is shining, things are starting to soften up a bit.
In the Collegiate races, U. Vermont's Jamey Driscoll won some consolation for his loss to Bjorn Sealander in the U23 race by gaining the jersey for this morning's Collegiate category. Lees-McRae's Kasey Manderfield dominated the collegiate women's race.
The major challenges on today's course will be first, the start, which takes a hard turn into an off-camber ditch not far from the line. This has caused a number of pile-ups already today, with the better part of the collegiate women's field hitting the deck.
There are only two dismounts for the stairs on the course, unless the organizers decided to put up the barricades which haven't been erected for the previous races. However, the part of the course which is causing the most difficulty so far has been a series of off-camber turns.
The ruts which have frozen into the ground are causing quite a few crashes, and even Katie Compton said that the race will not be about going hard, it will be about staying upright.
We're getting ready for the call-ups now. Riders have had to struggle to choose just the right clothing for the race. It's cold - below freezing - but the sun is out and the winds are light, so they don't want to overdress.
Georgia Gould is feeling ready for the race today - she's of course watching Compton, but said that she can't focus only on Katie. She needs to keep her eyes open because if she focuses only on one rider, that's when someone can slip by and surprise her. She's feeling confident, and who wouldn't after her four straight wins in the US Gran Prix?
The women are being lined up in UCI rankings order. Of course, Compton is first, then Gould, then Mo Bruno-Roy. Christine Vardaros would be fourth, but she couldn't make the trip here from Belgium due to a head injury. Anna Milkowski takes her spot, followed by Wendy Williams and Rebecca Wellons.
And they're off! The women blast into the first turn, and most of the field makes it through OK, Gould gets the hole shot and Compton is boxed in a little bit. She goes into the turn in about 8th.
And a crash - at the back of the field several riders go down.
Compton makes a quick recovery from the relatively poor start, and within a minute, she's taken the lead. The field is quickly strung out all over the course under the immense pressure of these powerful women at the front.
The crash at the start may have been caused by a blow-out - it looked like two riders went down.
Compton is at the front, Gould about 20" back after the second set of stairs, and then Bruno-Roy and Lloyd are chasing together another 20" back. Kerry Barnholt is right behind them.
The women race for 45 minutes today. The lap times have been as fast as the eight minute range and as slow as 11 minutes this week, so the riders will probably get through about five laps if they're lucky - or unlucky, depending on how they're feeling about the course!
Compton is still in the lead, and now it's Rachel Lloyd, who trails Compton by 20 seconds. Gould is chasing Lloyd about five seconds behind, followed by Barnhold and Bruno-Roy a few seconds apart.
Surprisingly, Kathy Sherwin is next, followed by Sue Butler.
At the start of the third lap, we've had Kathy Sherwin coming into the pits with a mechanical. She gets a bike change and is off.
The course is starting to loosen up, and the riders are sporting quite a bit more mud than they were before.
Compton has extended her lead, pulling it out over 30 seconds, but Lloyd is battling back, holding the gap while at the same time holding off Gould, who cannot follow her pace.
Compton's lead is starting to shrink a tad - she was right to be wary of Rachel Lloyd, who has now closed the gap to 25 seconds. Compton powers up the second set of stairs on lap three in her typical fluid style.
Compton comes through the start/finish and get the bell! Already?! The lap times are pretty long - about ten minutes, so this will make the race just under the 45 minutes scheduled.
Compton's 20+ second lead appears to be fairly secure - it's all about precision now. Any mistake and Rachel Lloyd, who is fighting hard to close down the gap to Compton, will be on terms. Gould is still struggling with the pace and is losing ground to Lloyd.
The riders are carefully picking their way through the course, everyone on their own and concentrating all their efforts on staying upright. It's pretty much all single track - there is only one good line through most parts.
We seem to have lost Kathy Sherwin, who had a spectacular start to move up from a last row position to the top ten. She had a mechanical earlier, and may have suffered another problem.
Compton is still cruising along as the crowds stream back towards the finish to see if Lloyd can come close to the three-time National Champion.
And as Compton comes to the finish, she has plenty of time to celebrate. Lloyd didn't come close, but succeeded in holding off Gould to take second. Gould made it through in third place.
1 Katie Compton (Spike)
2 Rachel Lloyd (ProMan) 0.25
3 Georgia Gould (Luna)
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