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FORT COLLINS, Colorado (VN) — U.S. national cyclocross champion Katie Compton soloed to victory in day one of the Smartwool Cup on Saturday in Fort Collins.
The Colorado race was the second stop on the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross circuit.
What looked to be a sloppy, muddy affair saw the cloudy skies turn blue and the track grow tacky as the women took to the course. Nicole Duke (Raleigh-Clement) got the holeshot, and Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles), Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna) and Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) sat behind her for the first lap.
Compton attacked early in the second lap with Georgia Gould (Luna) on her wheel and the two had opened a 20-second gap on Stetson-Lee by the time they rolled around for lap three.
Then, the inevitable occurred: Compton rode away from the field.
After three laps, her advantage over Gould grew to 12 seconds and the race for third was nearly a minute behind.
With three laps to go the national champ was extending her advantage over her Luna rival and Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) had moved into third place alongside Stetson-Lee and Canada’s Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling).
As Compton got the bell going into the last lap Gould was just 15 seconds back. Harlton and Stetson-Lee were a minute down, having managed to shed Krasniak.
But Gould couldn’t close the gap, and Compton crossed alone for the victory. The Luna rider held on for second with Stetson-Lee getting the better of Harlton for third.
“I felt like the pace slowed after the start so I figured I might as well keep it going. That course is super bumpy and sticky, so the slower you ride, the harder it is,” said Compton. “So I just tried to keep the pace on after the start effort.
“Georgia was right there, and I knew if I could just push it through some turns and accelerate hard and put her under pressure … she’s so strong, I don’t want to wait to the end and see. So I figured, keep the pressure on and see what happened.”
Gould, meanwhile, said she wasn’t quite as sharp as Compton in the technical sections.
“It was a good effort to go with her, and I just had to kind of ease off a little and ride my own race,” Gould said. “I had a much better start than I had in Madison, and I was happy to at least be up there at the front. Now it’s just a question of staying up there longer.
As for Stetson-Lee, she said she had “a great race.”
“I feel like there’s still a lot of season left so I’m trying to kind of set a good pace from the beginning and then just keep working away at it,” Stetson-Lee said. “But I felt great today.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Fort Collins.