In 2004, Katie Compton took the starting line at her first Elite Womenâ€™s Cyclocross National Championshipsâ€”she hasnâ€™t lost since. When she toes the line on Sunday in Bend, Oregon, she will embark on a quest for her seventh-consecutive national title. Compton has won two World Cup races this year and nine out of the ten races sheâ€™s entered. Her only loss came on US soil (at Round 5 of the USGP), but that was to Katrina Nashâ€”who isnâ€™t American and therefore not racing Sunday. Needless to say, Compton is the heavy favorite.
But anything can happen in a cyclocross raceâ€”especially in one run in what are rumored to be epicâ€ conditions.Â If Compton bobbles or has mechanical issues, Georgia Gould is the rider most likely to take advantage. After burning-out a bit last year, Gould has taken a more relaxed approach the season that is paying off ten-fold. She swept the Louisville and Portland weekends en route to a USGP overall title, and at the New Belgium Cup, Compton had to go all-out to drop the Luna rider.
Behind Gould, the womenâ€™s field is remarkably deep, proof that womenâ€™s cross is growing in the US. Former UCI world rankings leader Laura Van Guilder will start on the front row along with Sue Butler (who returned from a sinus infection last week), and last yearâ€™s runner-up, Meredith Miller. Three-time U23 champion Amy Dombroski will start on the front row as well.
Finally, due to the extensive travel and costs, a majority of the East Coast best riders didnâ€™t compete at many of the USGP events this year. As a result, riders like Sally Annis, Andrea Smith and Mo Bruno-Roy are a bit underrated, but very capable of finishing on the podium. So no matter how you spin it, itâ€™s not a done deal for Compton. If she does win though, she will surpass Alison Dunlap for the most national cyclocross titles in US history.
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