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BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — It would be so easy for the reigning World Cup cyclocross champion to overlook her own country’s national competition. She’s won it eight times since 2004 and is the defending champ. That’s as close as one gets to a lock in this sport.
Yet Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) says she’s focused and planning on her best at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.
“I’m feeling pretty well. I’m not sick, which is good. I feel like I’m still getting some training in between the travel and the racing. I’m looking forward to going to Madison. I love it there,” she said.
If the course holds true to form — mud soup, as of Friday — then Compton is an even better bet; she’s exceptionally powerful and rides well in heavy races. And she’s motivated, both to keep the stars and stripes and to stay sharp for the world championships February 3 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Compton said she never takes nationals for granted.
“It’s different every year. It’s a special event. I look forward to it because it’s a one-day event,” she said.
“And it’s different than doing a USGP or national-event race, because you never know where people are in their training — if they’re recovered for it, if they’re in the middle of a training block. You never know. Whereas nationals, people are rested. They come with good form.
“I like winning. I like wearing the national champion’s jersey. So I’m going to try to win it again. But I know someday it’s going to stop.”
The odds are that “someday” has yet to arrive, and that Compton will keep her stranglehold on the title. If she were to falter, though, there’s a tough crop of U.S. women poised to challenge her, among them Georgia Gould (Luna) and Meredith Miller (California Giant-Berry Farms).
“I would say Georgia’s the best bet,” said Compton. “She’s definitely competitive with me, and the one I focus on the most. She’s a strong rider and she never ever gives in.
“You might have a 30-second gap on her with one to go, but she’s chasing the whole time. If you make any mistakes she’ll be right there.
“But you never know. There could be people racing locally, and I don’t know how strong they are because I haven’t raced them.”
So this year, as always, it’s one championship at a time.
“It’s a new year. It’s a new race. Anything can happen,” Compton said.