Katie Compton headed into the elite women's cyclo-cross world championship race in Sankt-Wendel, Germany, undefeated in all the important 'cross races she had done this season. She approached the race with the goal of becoming the new world champion. However, the seven-time US 'cross national champion was left behind on the last lap by Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and finished second.
"There are no regrets because I did everything I could. Marianne had more punch in the final lap and went on the hill," said Compton. "I told myself to get on her wheel, but just couldn't follow her. I had good legs and felt pretty good, but since the world championships were my biggest goal, it means that is a tough day for me.
"I'm going to start drinking now," Compton joked.
As Compton wracked up wins all season, she emphasized that only one race mattered: Worlds. Since 2007, Compton has typically started Worlds as a favorite, but she's never won the rainbow jersey.
This year, she hoped it would be different with less time away from home. "Traveling isn't as hard as it used to be. I have good medication now," Compton said.
However, one factor was out of her control, and it was the course. During the weekend, temperatures in Sankt-Wendel went far below freezing, making the sub-surface soil hard as a rock. The sunny weather softened the top layer, but not enough according to Compton.
"Sure it is a hard course, but only as hard as a fast race can be. More mud would have benefited me because you need more power," said Compton. "I need a course with sand and mud although I realize that during the world championships weekend, it's often freezing.
"Next year in Koksijde, there's a lot of sand, and I can guarantee that it's a course I like a lot," Compton said.
This season she demolished the opposition in Koksijde by distancing everybody by more than two minutes. "That's true," said Compton, before adding, "but there's one thing... Marianne Vos wasn't there. She's a phenomenon. Whatever cycling discipline she does, she'll be on the podium.
"For now I'm taking some time off, and we'll go skiing in Colorado on Friday. On the other hand, I'm excited to start the mountain bike season. I had so many health issues in the past that I don't want anything other than to ride my bike," Compton said.
In the meantime, she needs to find a team. "Our agent is doing a lot of work to sort out the options we have. It's a pleasure to know that there are options, and we'll choose the best one money- and support-wise," Compton said.