Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized) has headed overseas to contest the two opening UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups in the Czech Republic. The first is in Plzen on October 16 followed by one in Tabor on October 23. The American is hoping to test her legs on the international stage earlier than usual in order to prepare for the world championships in Koksijde, Belgium.
Cyclo-cross racers have a unique opportunity to preview the Worlds course at the Koksijde World Cup on November 26 before heading back for the championships on January 29.
"I want to race in Czech to see where I am at and to try and get some points to help me qualify for the worlds team. I want to get over there and get my feet wet earlier this year," Miller told Cyclingnews, adding that she intends to return to Europe for the Koksijde World Cup to get some experience on the course.
Between trips to Europe, Miller will continue to compete in the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP). Recently, she had two podium finishes at the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie and New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins. The series events provide top-level racing where Miller has an opportunity to compete with the likes of Czech National Champion Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team), who is leading the standings, and US National Champion Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant Offroad), among others.
In 2010, Miller was the highest placed American in 12th at the UCI World Championships held in Tabor, Czech Republic. This year, she placed a respectable 27th place behind other silver medalist Compton and Amy Dombroski, who placed 26th in St. Wendel, Germany.
"I hope my chances of making the worlds team will be good," Miller said. "Considering my history of going the last two years, hopefully if I am riding sufficiently, I should be able to go back again. My whole goal is to go to worlds and that is why I am going early to Europe now, so that I can get over there and get the experience."
Miller, a former national champion on the road, has traditionally split her season between road racing and cyclo-cross. Following the world championships, she will take a break before starting a more relaxed road racing schedule that will include a series of mountain bike races to help stay in top shape for cyclo-cross season next fall.
"I haven't taken a very good break in the last couple of years and I am definitely going to need to do that," Miller said. "I will look at racing on the road a little more part-time so that I can add mountain biking to it and give myself a little more practice with skills for cyclo-cross. I think that is where I need a lot of work still. It is tough to have to wait until August to do that. I will have to mix it up a bit more next year."