By Gregor Brown in Treviso
American Katie Compton was a prime candidate for a medal in Treviso until a mysterious muscular ailment put doubts on Sunday's race for her. Second in the 2007 Cyclo-cross World Championships, the US champion is pessimistic about her chances this year.
"Saturday, I will stay near the hotel for rest and recover, and then on Sunday I will see how it goes. For me the preparation is not very good at all," Compton said somberly. "I will do the best I can. If I can ride and have a good day that is a bonus."
The 29 year-old visited the parcours along lake Bandie Friday, but only to visually inspect it and not to ride. She gave her impressions of the conditions and the course.
"Here in Italy it is like Colorado conditions, it is dryer and not quite as muddy and humid as Belgium," stated Compton from the team's hotel. "It is not typical 'cross whether, but it is winter and it is still cold enough."
Compton surveyed the course and found it to be a wide-open, fast route. "I have checked out quite a bit of it – it looks fast, it looks hard. That hill [at km 1.5 of 26% - ed.] will definitely be a hard one," she described.
In addition to the packed dirt climb there is the finishing grade of nine percent over 1000 metres. "It will be a spot where gaps could form, but there will be places to close them as well. I think the grass is packing down and it is getting a little more slick, so I think tyre selection and tyre pressure will be big factors. I would run a higher pressure because the mud is not long enough. I think high pressure – especially on the uphill finish – will be good for less rolling resistance," she concluded.
Compton made her predictions about who she thinks will be the strongest competition. "Hanka [Kupfernagel (Germany)], [Marianne] Vos, Daphny [Van Den Brand (Netherlands)]. It depends a lot on how Daphny is doing."
"For the men, Mourey [Francis Mourey (France)] is riding well and is good on fast course. However, Sven [Nys (Belgium)] is always very strong too. It is really a wide open course."