The 2013-2014 cyclo-cross season of Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) has been one of the US champion's most successful, but on the most important race of the season Compton's body didn’t co-operate, leaving her frustrated and in bitter disappointment with a 9th place finish in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.
The winner of the World Cup overall was expected to be a tough challenger to Marianne Vos, but halfway through the race Compton was only in the mix for a bronze medal. Then breathing problems took their toll - she was clearly gasping for air on the last lap, but didn’t find enough of it. Compton eventually rolled across the finish line in ninth place at nearly three minutes from new world champion Vos.
Right after crossing the finish line Compton landed in the arms of her husband Mark Legg, who is also her mechanic at the races. After cleaning up, getting some air from the pump and avoiding the media, Compton headed back to the camper. "It’s been tough. It’s hard having bad world championships," she told Cyclingnews after a time. "I know it’s been great so far and I should be happy with the World Cup but right now that’s difficult."
As it turns out the problems started when the Compton team arrived back in Europe after the US national championships, which she won. One week before the world championships Compton took part in the final round of the World Cup in Nommay, a classification in which she had an unbridgeable gap on British rider Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea). During the second lap of the race Compton pulled out, clearly suffering with breathing problems. A pollen allergy probably causes the asthmatic reaction. Compton was on the sofa for most of the week, not being able to do any training.
When Compton looked back on her week and her race she felt frustration. "My body is letting me down. It’s really frustrating because I was so good."
Regardless of her breathing problems Compton also had a disastrous start. She missed her pedal, and then collided with Czech rider Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet-Fidea). "It’s just nerves. I missed my pedal. It’s a nervous start. Then there were all these ruts. Pavla got stuck in one and I T-boned her. Our bikes were tangled into each other. We were – relatively calm – trying to puzzle it out but I put my foot through her back wheel so she probably ended off much worse than me. Afterwards I figured that it was the world championships and that I might as well go for it," Compton said. "But I wouldn’t recover. I didn’t want to drop out like I did in Nommay. Probably four women passed me in the end."
In hindsight it’s easy to find solutions, but even now Compton felt it was difficult to put the finger on the wound. "Maybe I should’ve skipped Nommay and gone to Mallorca, or maybe stay in Colorado..."
While Compton was deliberating on drinking away her problems on Saturday night there was a race calendar that confronted her with the next few races. "On Thursday we’re supposed to be racing in Japan and then there’s probably Oostmalle, Middelkerke and maybe Heerlen back in Europe. We’ll see."