Cyclo-cross world title eludes Compton in Valkenburg

Three Americans inside the top 10

The world title may have eluded Katie Compton again in the elite women's race at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, but with three riders in the top 10 it can still be considered a success for the US team. Belgium's Sanne Cant won her second consecutive title finishing 12 seconds ahead of Compton, who stood on the Worlds podium for the fifth time in her career.

Kaitlin Keough placed sixth and Elle Anderson was eighth.

On the four other occasions that Compton has stood on the podium at Worlds she secured silver medals in 2007, 2011 and 2013, and bronze in 2009. She added another silver medal to her list of illustrious cyclo-cross results in Valkenburg. She later posted a photo on Twitter of the podium ceremony with herself, Cant and bronze medallist Lucinda Brand enjoying champagne.

Sanne Cant, Katie Compton and Lucinda Brand on the podium at 2018 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships

Many believed that this would be her year to take the title because, for the first time in her career, she spent the entire season racing overseas. She only returned the US twice; to successfully defend her titles at the Pan-American Continental Championships and at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships, where she continued a 14th consecutive victory.

She had a strong season internationally, too, ranked fifth in the world and won the DVV Trofee series. She won the World Cup in Nommay, which was her 24th career World Cup win, but struggled with asthma during the final round in Hoogerheide. Nonetheless, she had already established herself as contender for the race in Valkenburg.

In a post-race interview at the national championships, Compton was asked if this would be her year to win a world title. She replied, "Honestly, I've had tons of good seasons and bad world championships. It could go either way."

Despite losing out on the world title, again, Compton was clearly the only rider to put Cant under pressure in Valkenburg, in what was arguably her best World Championships performance. It was a nail-biter to the end as she fought for the rainbow jersey against Cant. At one point, Compton looked like she might take her first world title, as she led the race by some six seconds on the final lap.

Cant slowly made up lost ground after a final bike change where she found a clean line to ride out of the pits. Compton struggled to run through the mud, after her bike change, and as the American's momentum slowed, Cant made the catch.

Cant wasn't able to completely shake Compton from her wheel initially but by the time they reached the steep descent, she passed Compton and built a gap out to 12 seconds by the finish line.

Cant had a strong season, winning the overall World Cup and European title. She was happy with the win, mostly because it was the hardest course she ever raced, and because the cycling community said the course did not sure her.

"This year the course is harder," Can’t compared this win to her victory in Bieles, Luxembourg. “Last year it was a battle with Marianne Vos and today it was a battle with Katie Compton. Maybe this year it's better because everyone said this course didn’t suit me, so I'm happy that I could show everyone that I could do this."

She said Compton also deserved the rainbow jersey and that she was happy she was second. "I'm happy Katie was second. She races from September through the end of the season. This was a course the fit her really well. [But] I'm happy I get to keep my jersey."

Americans Courtenay McFadden placed 26th, Rebecca Fahringer 28th and Ellen Noble 32nd in Valkenburg.
 

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