LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) rode away with Round 1 of the 2012 Derby City Cup on Saturday in Eva Bandman Park.
The U.S. national champion took off from the gun and never looked back, cruising to the victory ahead of Luna teammates Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould.
"I finally didn't mess up the start. All season I've struggled with that,' said Compton during the postrace news conference. "Since I was on the front I figured I might as well just go."
Nash, who is coming back from a nagging back problem that gave her trouble at the UCI world mountain bike championships in Austria, said she did what she could.
"I tried to stay on Katie's wheel, but I made a mistake, and I got some separation right there. I'll be faster by February, I hope,' she said.
Most riders opted for short sleeves on the sunny, 75-degree day for the third stop on the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross circuit. It continued to heat up as the U.S. national champion took the holeshot with Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) on her wheel going into the dirt.
Compton, Nash and Antonneau were the first to crest the first run-up, and Nash rounded the corner first, leading Compton into the massive sand section. Compton's bike-handling on the extended dunes was superior, and hers was the first wheel out of the sand. By the time the group got to the top of the steep stairs on the flyover, Compton and Nash had already opened a four-second gap over British champ Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team).
Antonneau, Rapha teammates Day and Julie Krasniak (Rapha) and Pepper Harlton (Juventus) chased the leaders, who had already put time on the field by halfway through the first lap. Due to an inferior call-up, Gould, who accessorized her Luna kit with a white paper mustache on her upper lip, was in the second chase group on the first lap.
Going into the second lap Nash was within striking distance of Compton, with Wyman about 10 seconds back.
Shortly after the second time past the pit, a full hairpin led the women into the barriers. Nash went screaming into the barriers and went down, getting tangled in the course tape in the process. Once she broke the tape and got back on her bike, Compton had control of the race and nobody could bring her back.
"I just went in a little too hot," Nash told VeloNews. Classic rookie move. It would have been good to have held (Compton's) wheel a little bit longer, because once she gets a gap, there's no bringing her back."
Gould clawed her way up to Krasniak and Harlton and the three latched onto Wyman to make a four-woman group hunting Nash. The group traded pulls through the fast paved sections, with Gould leading the group through the start/finish.
It looked as though Gould would be able to make a move to pass Day on the second flyover, but Day held her position.
With the high speeds and the way Compton took off like a shot from the gun, the field was already completely spread out by the second lap.
With three to go Compton was still out front, chased by Nash with Gould third. Behind, Wyman made contact again with Krasniak, leaving the two battling for fourth.
With two to go, an aggressive Antonneau was blasting through the field as the wind picked up. But Compton and the top-5 riders had a huge lead. The young Cannondale rider made contact with Harlton, and by the fifth time over the flyover had passed the Canadian and was sitting in sixth.
As the national champ raced into the bell lap the podium was looking like the stars and stripes, Nash and Gould. Behind, Wyman was putting some daylight between herself and Krasniak.
Compton took the victory with a time of 39:51, followed by Nash, 50 seconds back in second and Gould third, 27 seconds in arrears and without her mustache. Wyman hung on to finish fourth, ahead of Krasniak.
Amanda Miller looked to have a grasp on a top-10 finish, but went down coming around a turn, leaving her bike unrideable and ran it across the line for 18th place, the rear wheel totally jammed.