By Brecht Decaluwé
One week after her convincing performance during the cyclo-cross World Cup in The Netherlands, Katie Compton captured the first win of her European campaign in Gavere, Belgium last weekend. The current US national champion managed to overcome trying conditions and beat accomplished Dutch rider Daphny van den Brand and Belgium's Sanne Cant in a breakthrough for American riders racing in Europe this season.
Compton struggled to find traction during the first lap on the extremely muddy course in East Flanders, where rain had reshaped the steep hill into a slippery slide. "After Pijnacker this was the first muddy 'cross of the season, so I had to adapt a little," said Compton. "At the start line I noticed that everybody was using more profiled tyres than me," she added. She soon found out why that was the case. "It was like an ice skating ring out there. During the first lap I touched ground and couldn't ride up the hill."
Despite getting reasonable start, Compton was worried about her prospects for the remainder of the race. "I was riding in fifth position and I wasn't happy with that, but I thought I could blame it on the less-profiled tyres I was using," she explained. The American showed excellent technical prowess on the Belgian course; she was fearless on the steep and slippery downhill sections, opting against using the drops. It worked. "Steadily I was going better and I started moving up while others clearly struggled. I ended up leading with Daphny [van den Brand] for half a lap but then she got dropped," said Compton.
Brecht Decaluwé's news feature can be read in full here.