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UCI World Cup leader Katie Compton (Planet Bike) won her sixth straight cyclocross national championship and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) collected his third during the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships Sunday in Bend, Oregon.
Meredith Miller (California Giant), the 2009 road national champion, took second in the elite women’s race with Amy Dombroski (Primus Mootry-Schlamm) third. In the elite men’s race, hometown hero and 2008 national champ Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) finished a close second to Johnson — he chased throughout the race but never quite closed the gap.
Sunny but slick
The skies were clear for the final day of the national championships, with bright sunshine and temps in the 40s that kept the course slick and muddy.
With five straight national titles under her belt, Compton was the heavy favorite going in, and she did not disappoint. She took the hole shot, drilled it, and halfway into the first lap had 10 seconds on the closest chaser, six-time national ’cross champ Alison Dunlap (Luna).
Heading into the second lap, Dombroski got to the front of the chase and dropped Miller, Dunlap and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom). But by the end of the third lap, Miller caught and passed Dombroski, who seemed to be in distress.
At that point, it was a race for second place. Compton continued to increase her lead over Miller, and while Dombroski never fell far behind the second-place rider, she was never able to close the gap.
After winning her sixth national title, Compton praised the course and the competition.
“I think it was the most technical course all year,” she said. “This is a fast course, but there is ice underneath the mud, and with the ruts, thawing out halfway through, it was hard to pick the right line. If you mess up, you can lose so much time. I just wanted to keep going and keep the speed and keep it consistent.”
Dombroski “was riding well,” Compton added. “She was close for the first few laps.”
Miller, who had hoped to make the podium, was delighted to finish second.
“I didn’t expect it, but I was hoping for a top three,” said Miller. “To finish second, it’s pretty exciting. Starting at about two o’clock yesterday afternoon I felt like I was ready to throw up. I just wanted to get the race started. It’s absolutely amazing. The entire way around the course the people are cheering. It makes such a difference.”
Dombroski, meanwhile, said the race didn’t go as well as she had hoped.
“I wanted to have a better start than that,” she said. “I was pretty far back and I had to chase through. At that point Compton already had a gap on everyone.”
When she crashed in an icy corner, she “lost focus,” Dombroski said. “And then Meredith attacked me and I tried to stay on her wheel. I began riding stupid lines and I just sort of panicked. I should have been more relaxed, but all year I didn’t have any crashes. It’s bound to happen at some race.”
Powers punches it, Johnson finishes it
In the men’s race, Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) took the hole shot, chased by a group including teammate Johnson, Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) and defending champ Trebon. Todd Wells (Specialized), Barry Wicks (Kona-FSA) and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) formed a second chase.
Trebon and Johnson reeled Powers in during the third lap as Page faded back to the second chase group. Then, a lap later, Powers crashed in a slick, grassy corner — Johnson attacked, Trebon never regained contact, and with two laps to go, it became a battle for third between Page and Wells.
In the end, Johnson took the win over Trebon with Page third.
“It’s really such a bummer that Jeremy crashed like that,” said Johnson. “‘Smooth is fast’ is the only thing I was thinking about. I just tried to have a trouble-free last few laps.
“It’s tough — it’s so easy to make a mistake. In an hourlong race, it all adds up. When I came around the last corner, that’s when I knew I had it.”
Everything went according to plan, said Johnson.
“We wanted to have good starts,” he said. “We wanted to control the race from the front and not have to make big moves to catch up. We just wanted to ride like that and keep Ryan dangling off the back.”
The plan worked, Trebon conceded.
“With about three laps to go I was kind of hurting and I was coming apart a little bit,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to bring him back unless he flatted or made a mistake. I was trying to keep it steady and keep him close in case he made a mistake.”
To Trebon’s displeasure, however, Johnson rode a flawless race.
“The only section I could really pedal hard was that long uphill,” said Trebon. “There was so much coasting, those short, little dudes, in the tight greasy corners, were faster. You couldn’t ask for a better day.”