American Katie Compton is on her way to the Czech Republic for the first UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup of the season in Plzen, but instead of coming into the race on top form, she told Cyclingnews she still has "room to improve" and will be happy with a podium finish.
"I'm happy with where I am at this point in the season," Compton said in the midst of hurriedly finishing up her final tasks before heading to Europe. "I'll be happy with a podium this weekend. I'm not going to race all the World Cups this year so I'm not going for the overall, but I still like to win races so I'm going to try and have good rides at the World Cups I race and set myself up to have a good Worlds again."
Compton is still seeking her first rainbow jersey after being twice second and once third in her 'cross career. After several seasons of great early season form which faded come time for Worlds, the seven-time US 'cross champion is taking a slower start to the year.
She skipped CrossVegas and the USGP opener in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and only started racing last weekend at the USGP in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she took second to Czech champion Katerina Nash on day one and then scored her first win of the year on the second day.
Although fellow American Amy Dombroski relocated to Belgium for a full European calendar, Compton doesn't see herself taking such a leap in order to fulfill her goal of becoming world champion - at least not yet.
"I like being in the States too much and enjoy Colorado in the winter. That doesn't mean it won't happen though," Compton said. "I take one season at a time and see where I am and what I want to accomplish, and the world championship is the biggest on my list and will be 'tilI can win it. Hopefully that is sooner rather than later."
At 33, Compton is battling against time and competitors who are a decade her junior, including her soon-to-be "teammate" Marianne Vos, but she said she'll keep racing as long as she's riding well and enjoying it.
Vos will become part of the Rabobank organisation when it takes over sponsorship of her current Nederland Bloeit team in January, but Compton said they aren't exactly going to be teammates.
"The Pro tour team, Off-Road team and now the women's team are all run under the Rabobank.nl umbrella but we're still three separate teams," Compton said. "She's a teammate of mine like Lars Boom is a teammate. I think it's awesome that Rabo has decided to sponsor a women's team though, it's great for the sport and Marianne really deserves that kind of support."
Following the opening World Cup in Plzen, Compton will return to the US and will miss the second round in Tabor. Her next races will be the UCI races in Boulder and Ohio and the USGP in Louisville before she returns to Europe for the Koksijde World Cup at the end of November.
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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