Katie Compton (KFC Racing) added a record 15th consecutive elite women's national cyclo-cross title to her long list of achievements in the sport at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Louisville on Sunday. She won the race by over two minutes ahead of a surprise runner-up Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Racing) and third-placed Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing).
"To win today it feels really good, and it's still emotional," said Compton, who now heads into the second half of her season as she looks toward the World Championships in Denmark.
"I was really excited about today. This season has been really rough, and I've had a lot of downs this year. I just tried to come to this race rested and feeling as good as I could. The other races before this haven't gone great, so I thought I should rest before this one.
"Then I've got a lot of racing in front of me. I'm heading to Belgium tomorrow, and I'm there until the end of February. Right now, I feel like my season is just starting so hopefully I can start training hard and racing. I'm coming around for Worlds again.”
Compton, who just turned 40 this month, is still racing at the top her game and currently ranked second in the world behind world champion Sanne Cant.
She was the out-right favourite heading into the championships race, in part because of her strength and previous success at the event, but also because the thick, muddy conditions suited her perfectly.
"This was pretty perfect," Compton said. "There was quite a bit of running, and I'm not as great as some on that, but luckily with the technical bits, I can carry speed. The running wasn't bad but it was tough uphill. I did the best I could."
She unclipped from her pedals at the start, but stayed calm and moved what seemed effortlessly through the mud to catch up to her rivals.
She orbited the circuit and gained a handful of seconds each lap on Noble and Gilbert. She finished the race over two minutes ahead and secured her 15th title on what she called the most epic course of all.
The race for second was a little more unpredictable as Kaitie Keough (Cannondale) was nowhere to be seen, but Gilbert, Noble and Rebecca Fahringer battled for the silver and bronze.
Gilbert's running background might have given her an advantage through the mud, and she surged ahead of Noble on the last lap and crossed the finish line in second place.
Noble crossed the line a disappointing third while Fahringer faded and finished fourth.
How it unfolded
Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) sprinted off the pavement and into the hole-shot followed by Kaitie Keough (Cannondale), while Katie Compton (KFC Racing) struggled with her pedals and started on the grass ten riders back.
Noble cleared the field through the first half of the first lap, charging through the mud and staying well ahead of the chaotic start.
Compton found her rhythm and raced her way forward through the field. She quickly caught Noble Keough lost ground in the opening lap.
Rebecca Fahringer (Kona-Maxxis-Shimano) trailed the two leaders; Noble and Compton, by just a few seconds over the first significant hill.
Compton charged passed Noble on the steep descent, and weaved through hay-bale obstacles, pushing through to the front of the race.
Noble fought to stay as close as possible to Compton but lost several seconds, and by the time the pair raced through the mechanic's pits and back onto the pavement to start the second lap, Compton was a comfortable 10 seconds ahead.
The 14-time national champion showed her experience over the very challenging mud sections riding very smooth. She transitioned from the riding sections to the running sections with ease and opened her lead further on each passing lap.
Noble, also a World-Cup mountain bike racer, used those skills to handle the technical sections. However, she struggled a little more than Compton through the thick mud and along the running sections.
With two laps to go, Compton pushed her lead out to over a minute. The race for second place heated up as Fahringer caught up to Noble, and passed her through the mud, and Gilbert closed in on the pair.
Gilbert, who comes from a running background, used her lengthy stride to run ahead of Noble on the muddy uphill. Fahringer might have burnt too many matches to catch up to the front and began to fade.
Gilbert and Noble raced neck-to-neck through the last lap, with Noble struggling to stay on Gilbert's wheel. Gilbert opened a gap through the last lap, and despite a crash on the descent, she held off Noble to take second place.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Katherine Compton (USA)||0:52:23|
|2||Sunny Gilbert (USA) Van Dessel Factory Team||0:02:12|
|3||Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Factory Racing||0:02:38|
|4||Rebecca Fahringer (USA) Amy D. Foundation||0:03:24|
|5||Kaitlin Keough (USA) Cannondale||0:04:58|
|6||Regina Legge (USA) Green Line Velo driven by Zipca||0:06:00|
|7||Lily Williams (USA) The Pony Shop p/b KPMG||0:07:16|
|8||Sarah Sturm (USA) Specialized - Tenspeed Hero||0:08:02|
|9||Courtenay Mcfadden (USA) Washington State Bicycle Associ||0:08:34|
|10||Erica Zaveta (USA) Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions||0:08:54|
|11||Jennifer Malik (USA)||0:09:31|
|12||Raylyn Nuss (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek||0:09:44|
|13||Beth Ann Orton (USA)||0:10:25|
|14||Crystal Anthony (USA) New England Bicycle Racing Asso||0:11:26|
|15||Cassandra Maximenko (USA) Van Dessel Factory Team||0:11:46|
|16||Carla Williams (USA) Deschutes Brewery||0:12:09|
|17||Arley Kemmerer (USA) Fearless Femme Racing||0:12:46|
|18||Jane Rossi (USA)||0:13:14|
|19||Caroline Nolan (USA)||0:15:08|
|20||Samantha Runnels (USA) Texas Bicycle Racing Associatio||-1 Lap|
|21||Kristen Legan (USA)|
|22||Taylor Kuyk-White (USA)|
|23||Anne Usher (USA)|
|24||Elizabeth Sheldon (USA) Crosshairs Cycling|
|25||Anna Megale (USA) Team UpCycle|
|26||Caitlin Bernstein (USA)||-2 Laps|
|27||Anna Dorovskikh (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport|
|28||Laurel Rathbun (USA)|
|29||Meghan Owens (USA)|
|30||Rebecca Gross (USA)|
|31||Rachel Rubino (USA)|
|32||Emily Werner (USA) Amy D. Foundation|
|33||Emily Curley (USA) Corner Cycle Cycling Club|
|34||Amanda Nauman (USA)|
|35||Gabriella Sterne (USA) Vanderkitten CX|
|36||Chelsea Weidinger (USA)|
|37||Taryn Mudge (USA) Mathletes Racing|
|38||Leslie Ethridge (USA) ORNOT|
|39||Erin Faccone (USA) B2C2 Cycling Club|
|40||Katrina Engelsted (USA) Petunia Mafia Cycling|
|41||Susan Livingston (USA) Amy D. Foundation|
|42||Avanell Scales (USA) Deschutes Brewery|
|43||Kelly Paduch (USA)|
|44||Natalie Tapias (USA) JAM Fund / NCC|
|45||Alexandra Campbellforte (USA) Mid Atlantic Bicycle Racing Ass|
|46||Natalie Smith (USA) Bicycle Heaven / PVA|
|DNS||Kathryn Cumming (USA) Jalapeno Cycling|
|DNS||Danielle Arman (USA) Bicycle Racing Association of C|
|DNS||Brittlee Bowman (USA) RSCX - House Ind - DWR - Herman|