Well wouldja look at that? Three American silver medals at the Cyclocross World Championsips – only the U23 Men (of course, the squad I actually know people on) failed to podium, or, for that matter, to even play a major role.
While I’m as pumped as the next Yank about these finishes, let’s just keep in mind that both Elite American medallists received a serious support ride from domestique Lady Luck. Sven Nys and Bert Wellens – running 1 and 2 on the UCI points list – neutralized each other two laps in. And on the women’s side, World Cup leader Hanka Kupfernagel dominated early but suffered from a mechanical, letting the race fall to pieces.
While Compton’s back-row start would seem to negate any benefit she gained from the misfortune of her competitors, her remarkable run through the field makes me wonder all the more what one of the best ‘cross racers in the world is doing not racing UCI ‘cross races 90% of the time, before showing up at big events to decimate the field. I have more faith in the integrity of pro athletes than most, but it isn’t hard to construct a much darker explanation than the one she provides.
Meanwhile, the UCI displayed uncharacteristic deftness in segueing into the road season, starting the Tour of Qatar on the same day as ‘cross worlds. Quick.Step got a much-needed morale boost, winning the relatively meaningless 6k Team Time Trial in Stage 1. Plan was to place Davide Vigano in the leader’s jersey, but he was perhaps a bit behind in his preparation, dropping off the pace in the final kilo, leaving early-season superstar Steven DeJongh to take yellow.