In 2004, Katie Compton took the starting line at her first Elite Women’s Cyclocross National Championships—she hasn’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 she’s entered. Her only loss came on US soil (at Round 5 of the USGP), but that was to Katrina Nash—who isn’t American and therefore not racing Sunday. Needless to say, Compton is the heavy favorite.
But anything can happen in a cyclocross race—especially in one run in what are rumored to be epic” conditions. 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 women’s field is remarkably deep, proof that women’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 year’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 didn’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, it’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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