The world championship course got a solid workout under the wheels of the elite women's field on the first day of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (USGP) in Louisville, Kentucky. US 'cross champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) took a convincing victory to remain unbeaten on US soil this season, while Luna Pro Team teammates Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould rounded out the podium at 50 seconds and 1:17 respectively on an unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon.
Compton put her season's starting woes behind her as she rocketed off the start line and took the hole shot onto the grass of Eva Bandman Park at the head of the 53-rider strong field.
"I finally hit my pedal, I got a good start and I surprised myself," Compton told Cyclingnews. "Since I was on the front I figured I might as well go. I just wanted to make it an effort like I'd have to do at Worlds - to see how I felt by the last lap."
With a clear line of sight, Compton stepped on the gas and immediately forced a selection with only Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and British champion Helen Wyman (Kona) in tow. By the end of the opening lap, however, Nash was fighting to stay on Compton's wheel while Wyman had already conceded 11 seconds.
"I tried to start off fast, but I didn't seem to be very fast today," Wyman told Cyclingnews. "My main objectives for the season were the Koppenberg and the European championships and when you win those and next day fly to America you're going to have to accept that you'll probably suck a little bit.
"I wanted to have a battle with Compton and Nash, but it didn't work out for me today. I think it's more the weather, really. It's so hot, it's ridiculous! I like training in this weather, but racing in it is just a bit too hard."
During the second lap a mistake on the barrier section proved fatal for Nash's overall chances as Compton pounced and steadily increased her advantage on the Czech rider, her 'cross form still coming good after a delayed start to the season.
"I came around the corner right before the barriers and just came in a little too hot," Nash told Cyclingnews. "I ran into them and then Katie was gone, the gap kept growing. That was the separation right there and then it was sort of a time trial. The course is great and I'll be a lot faster by February, I hope."
Meanwhile, the battle for third became a four-rider race as Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club) and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), sporting a paper mustache affixed to her upper lip, caught Wyman.
For the remaining four laps Compton and Nash rode their own individual time trials to solidify their first and second place positions, while the deck shuffled in the battle for the final podium spot. Gould had already overcame a slow start to move into contention for third, and on the third of six laps the 2012 mountain bike Olympic bronze medalist proved she still had plenty of fight in her legs this late in a long season.
"I also was training for my start at Worlds, except I'll be starting even further back," said Nash, regarding her less than stellar position on the start grid today. "It was a good eye opener. I need to work on my wrestling skills I think, that will help me the most with my start at Worlds.
"It really speaks to the quality of the racing in North America that we have a World Cup level field right here at home. I'm really excited to be able to follow these guys, far behind them, but follow them nonetheless."
First Harlton dropped off the pace, followed by Krasniak and Wyman as Gould finished the lap alone in third, 46 seconds behind Compton and 24 seconds down on her teammate Nash. Krasniak and Wyman followed 14 seconds later.
The top three positions would remain firmly in the hands of Compton, Nash and Gould through to the finish line, but Wyman and Krasniak continued to battle for fourth while a surging Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) would duel with Harlton for sixth place honours.
Wyman cracked Krasniak at the end of the fifth lap and rode solo over the final circuit to claim a hard-earned fourth place.
"Towards the end of the race I started to speed up and feel my legs a bit so hopefully tomorrow I can pull something out of the bag to actually race against them (Compton and Nash) because that's why I'm here, really," said Wyman.
Meanwhile, Antonneau, who had dropped Harlton, nearly caught Krasniak for fifth place, finishing just five seconds in arrears by the finish in sixth.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Katherine Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective||0:39:51|
|2||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:00:50|
|3||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:01:17|
|4||Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona||0:01:45|
|5||Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-FOCUS||0:02:06|
|6||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:02:11|
|7||Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club||0:02:26|
|8||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:02:42|
|9||Crystal Anthony (USA) Cyclocrossworld.com||0:02:57|
|10||Carmen Mcnellis Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:03:03|
|11||Mical Dyck (Can) Stan's NoTubes||0:03:07|
|12||Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-FOCUS||0:03:13|
|13||Caroline Mani (Fra) Raleigh Clement||0:03:24|
|14||Amanda Carey (USA) Volkswagen Boise||0:03:40|
|15||Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:03:41|
|16||Courtenay Mcfadden (USA) Clif Bar/Redline||0:04:00|
|17||Emily Batty (Can)||0:04:01|
|18||Amanda Miller (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:04:05|
|19||Maghalie Rochette (Can) Powerwatts-FTTIME||0:04:51|
|20||Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:05:05|
|21||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Van Dessel||0:05:14|
|22||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles||0:05:33|
|23||Abby Strigel (USA) Team Abyssa||0:05:48|
|24||Rebecca Gross (USA) KCCX/Fuji p/b Challenge Tires||0:06:08|
|25||Brittlee Bowman (USA) pedalpowertraining.com|
|26||Rebecca Much (USA) The Service Course | World Bicycle Relief||0:06:24|
|27||Erin Silliman (USA) Corsa Concepts Cyclocross Team||0:06:26|
|28||Arley Kemmerer (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes||0:06:32|
|29||Christina Birch (USA) J.A.M. Fund / NCC / Vittoria||0:06:36|
|30 (-2 laps)||Sierra Siebenlist (USA) Matthews Bicycles|
|31||Allison Arensman (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABR|
|32||Robin Williams (USA) Mercy-Specialized|
|33||Katherine Shields (USA) MOB Pro CX Team|
|34||Katherine Williams (USA) Team Belladium|
|35||Jeanne Fleck (USA) VELO Duluth- Twin Ports Cyclery|
|36||Jessica Owings (USA) MOAB Cyclocross|
|37||Shannon Gibson (USA) Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross|
|38||Cooper Ambjorn (USA) Team Hungry|
|39||Emily Shields (USA) MOB Pro CX Team|
|40||Cinthia Lehner (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABR|
|41 (-3 laps)||Bridget Donovan (USA) BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing|
|42||Nicole Borem (USA) Don Walker Cycles Racing|
|43||Meghan Korol (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross|
|44||Karen Brocket (USA) Ethos Racing|
|DNF||Frances Morrison (USA) JAM Fund / NCC / Vittoria|
|DNF||Ashley James (USA) KCCX/Fuji p/b Challenge Tires|
|DNF||Amber Markey (USA) My Wife, Inc|
|DNF||Katie Arnold (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross|
|DNS||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms|
|DNS||Nicole Duke (USA) Raleigh / Clement|
|DNS||Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective|
|DNS||Corrie Osborne (USA) Team Extreme|
|DNS||Linda Sone (USA) Crossniacs p/b Wesley|