By Brecht Decaluwé in Pijnacker, The Netherlands
Katie Compton returned to the cyclo-cross scene at the third round of the UCI World Cup after a leg injury that forced her to pull out of the World Cup in Kalmthout. Lacking UCI points, the American rider was positioned on the last start line, but that didn't deter her for long. Compton shot off the front like an arrow and almost held on for victory before being overtaken by Hanka Kupfernagel.
Compton quickly amassed a lead of twenty seconds on the chase group containing Hanka Kupfernagel, who had just recovered from a poor start. The World Champion then plowed away from the main chase group in search of Compton. The American stoutly defended every metre of her lead, but on the last lap a determined Kupfernagel caught up.
Compton made a mistake in swapping bikes as her dirty bike's handlebars got caught in the rear wheel of her clean bike. The error was just enough of an opening for Kupfernagel who powered away from her American rival in the mud.
Kupfernagel grabbed her second consecutive victory in the World Cup and extended her lead in the overall series.
"Right now I'm tired but happy," Kupfernagel said. "I don't know how the others were able to do it, but they started extremely fast and I was slow. I managed to close the gap and after a while I started to find the good lines through the mud. That saved me some energy which was useful at the end of the race," Kupfernagel said.
Compton was delighted with her second-placed performance.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite women's World Cup cyclo-cross race in Pijnacker.