"Yeah, she's going down, is what I'm saying!" joked Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) when asked about her chances against Katie Compton (Trek Cycling Collective) in Sunday's National Cyclo-cross Championship race being held in Verona, WI.
Gould, who won medals at the Olympics and World Mountain Bike Championships in 2012, rode a successful cyclo-cross season this past year, and her string of second and third places finishes earned her the overall victory in the major US series, the Trek US Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross.
Gould, whose cyclo-cross racing is often hampered by a slow start, a factor she attributes to her focus on longer mountain bike racing, brings a large following to each event she attends due to her Olympic success and #heckleme Twitter campaign.
With a legion of fans cheering and jeering her on at each race, Gould remains optimistic despite Compton's dominant season. "I think in these kind of conditions anything can happen to anybody. You never know so you can never count anybody out," said Gould after pre-riding the course on Friday. "Obviously Katie is the favorite, but anything can happen on the day. You just never know.
Gould's technical skills will be key to her success with course conditions changing every day, and sometimes after every race. "It was treacherous out there. There is some mud, and some ice, lots of ice, some frozen ruts, some not-frozen ruts," said Gould about her course reconnaissance. "It's just going to be about finesse, and a little bit of luck."
Gould was more circumspect on how her technique would vary given that forecasts are calling for temperatures to dive below freezing on Saturday night. "You just try to stay upright and make less mistakes than everyone else," said Gould about the mud, ice, and water lining the course. "Really, no one is making no mistakes, so it's just about keeping your wits about you, and not panicking."
Even though she's billed as one of the main contenders for the US Championship, Gould hasn’t lost sight of primary rider to watch. "Obviously Katie is riding super strong," said Gould. "She's been winning World Cups and when she's not finishing first, she's finishing second place." Georgia Gould riding for Lunda Pro team, lines up for the US National Elite Women's Cyclocross Championship on Sunday January 13th at 1:00 PM CST.