Monday, December 20, 2010

USA Tops As Compton #1 Kalmthout, Belgium

Its not over until its over and the World Cup is still game on!

Katie Compton scores World Cup win in Kalmthout, Sue Butler (WN) 2nd Top USA placement.

You might as well say Nash is a USA racer, she took 3rd after a bad line, she races for Luna full time.

Katie Compton scores World Cup win in Kalmthout, Nash 3rd, Butler (WN) 2nd Top USA placement.

KALMTHOUT, Belgium (VN) — With snow falling on an already icy, snow-covered course in very cold woods north of Antwerp, American US CX queen Katie Compton (Planet Bike) powered away from both her familiar rival Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and world champ Marianne Vos (Nederland-Bloeit) to #3 World Cup win of the season.

Katie Compton takes her third World Cup victory of the season

Katie Compton takes her third World Cup victory of the season. Photo: Dan Seaton

Vos, a sprinter, who made her return to World Cup competition after several months spent training in Australia preparing to defend her 2008 Olympic gold on the track, stormed back from a last-row start to take 2nd ahead of newly crowned Czech champion Nash who races full time in the US.

Though British champ Helen Wyman (Kona) shot to the front from the gun, the Netherlands’ Sanne Van Paassen (BrainWash) took initial control of the race, leading through the first lap ahead of Nash and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (BKCP-Powerplus). While Compton started slowly, she was within striking distance by the end of the first lap, pulling Germany’s Hanka Kupfernagel.

Vos, meanwhile, with essentially no cx race time so far this season, was forced to start in the last row, and battle her way to the front. By the end of the first lap she was sitting in 7th, some 20 seconds behind the leaders.

Nash took the lead on the 2nd lap, while Compton made contact with the front group, sitting comfortably in 4th behind Cant and Van Paassen. Vos, meanwhile, continued moving up as well, unleashing one of the fastest laps anyone would ride all day to pull within 10 seconds of the lead group.

It was near the race’s midpoint that Compton finally took charge, powering through the snow and into first, quickly opening a large gap between her and Nash. While Compton pulled away, Vos was also closing, first coming around Cant and reaching the leaders just as both Nash and Van Paassen went down in a deep, slippery mud pit. Vos, one of only a few riders who handled the mud cleanly during the race, used the opportunity to take over second place.

While Compton raced in great form to what looked like an easy solo win, Vos stretched her lead over Nash and Van Paassen. Vos couldn’t gain time on Compton, however, and would finish 30 seconds off the lead, but several seconds ahead of Nash. Vos, who spent the first lap of the race just finding her way around most of the 47 women in the field on her way to the front, showed decisively that she remains a force despite the early season layoff.

Few have been able to hold 30 seconds to Compton i.e. Georgia Gould (WN) Luna is one of the few.

Sue Butler ( WN Hudz-Subaru) was the best American behind Compton, finishing 23rd, while Christine Vardaros (Baboco-Revor) 36th. Meredith Miller (California Giant) was 38th.

Fast finish, but a slow start

Compton, who this year has started slowly at a number of races before opening huge gaps, said Sunday’s slow start was not part of a plan, but didn’t hurt her too much either.

“I’m aware that I need to start better, but for some reason this year I’m just struggling with my starts,” she explained. “But I kind of like following at first, and then knowing when to attack because I know I how people are riding. I’ve learned to be patient. I’ve tried to force it too many times and made too many mistakes and crashed and lost time. So now if I don’t get a good start I try to relax and be patient and wait for my times to pass and attack.

Vos is back “If you spend more time on the track you’re going to get the track legs"

2010 UCI World Cup, Kalmthout, Marianne Vos

Marianne Vos runs up the stairs and towards second place. Photo: Dan Seaton

“This was only the 3rd time I raced my ’cross bike this season. So ultimately I’m glad I started yesterday,” she said. “I was a little bit tapped out in the finale then; that didn’t happen here. Yesterday I knew already a lot of what ’cross feels like.”

“Today I never really had Compton in my sights. Just as I approached her lead group she put in her attack,” she said.

Nash, meanwhile, said Vos got the better of her because of a bobble late in the race.

“Vos caught up with us on the pavement, and going into the last lap she put in a really good effort. I actually happened to crash right behind her, and that’s how we got the little gap,” she said. “I was close, but I could never quite close the gap on her.”

“I’m not quite sure how it would work out to sprint with her either,” she added, with a laugh.

Butler still struggling

Butler (WN) was the top American finisher behind Compton, told VeloNews that she had struggled with the unusually cold weather. Sue has been sick and even missed Fort Collins, CO. This is a tough sport on the human body and jetlag from Portland, OR to Belgium is kick your butt.

“I love this race, but my body just shut down I was so cold. I just started going backwards,” she said. “I had such a good start, and I was where I wanted to be. I wore a lot of clothes, but after jetlag — I didn’t sleep well last night — I think it’s just really hard for your body to do it. I think next week it should be better after being here a week.

Butler said that she has been recovering from illness that slowed her down in the final weeks of the USGP racing season, including at the national championship race. She did pull off a 5th, but was very unhappy about it.

“Right now, everyone else is just faster and I’m a little slower, it just wasn’t where I wanted to be today,” said the American.

Compton, with wins in all but one World Cup race this season — she knows her body and opted to sit out the 2nd round in Plzen in October — takes over 2nd place World Cup!!!

seaton_headshotEditor’s note: Dan Seaton started writing about cyclocross when he moved from New Hampshire to Belgium in 2008. He started covering European cyclocross for VeloNews in October 2010. Dan has a Ph.D. in physics and spends most of his time working as mission scientist for a spaceborne solar telescope at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. He somehow finds time to race as an amateur ‘crosser in Belgium during the fall and winter. Dan and his wife, Mindi, live in Brussels.

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