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Why these elite women will always remember 2014 cyclocross national championships

February 16, 2014

Meredith Miller gets third over a super-tough Crystal Anthony at the 2014 cyclocross national championships

2014 cyclocross nationals at Valmont Bike Park will go down as one of the best races ever for many of the elite women athletes, regardless of where they placed.

Meredith Miller catches Crystal Anthony, her breath, and the crowd’s energy 

After stalking third on course Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) for most of the race, Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) finally lassoed her quarry in the bell lap. Miller sprinted to the finish line to gain the last podium place and stopped just past the clutch of photographers. Anthony followed close behind for fourth place.

Someone trying to catch her breath can only utter a few words between exhales.

Meredith Miller after crossing the 2014 cyclocross national championships finish line

Meredith Miller after crossing the 2014 cyclocross national championships finish line

“Oh shit. Oh my God. Holy crap,” Miller said, as she leaned over the handlebars. “Crystal definitely made me work every bit for that.”

When asked how she felt, Miller looked up and replied, “Like I’m gonna throw up. Good, I feel really good. I’m having a hard time breathing. I’ve been a little under the weather for the last week so catching my breath today was a challenge.”

Miller spoke later with Dirtwire.tv about vibes from the spectators. “I couldn’t have done it without all the crowd here, my family being here. And they gave me that little extra bit that I needed to catch and pass Crystal. This is going to go down as one of my absolute all time favorite races for sure.”

Elite women take the first pass up the long Valmont hill, with Crystal Anthony still at the front and a charging Katie Compton

Elite women take the first pass up the long Valmont hill, with Crystal Anthony still at the front and a charging Katie Compton

Anthony, who took the holeshot, may remember this year as the podium spot that got away or as her best result in the last five years of competing at cyclocross nationals. Since 2009 she has improved her result every year, coming in fifth in 2013.

“I feel like I rode a pretty consistent race, was just riding right at my limit the whole time. Meredith, she rode a really smart race, kind of getting stronger as the race went on and I tried my best to hold her off, but she was just super strong at the end,” the Optum rider said. “It’s a little disappointing not to hold onto third but I’m still happy.”

Nicole Duke kept her eyes and ears open 

Nicole Duke (Marin/Spy) shared thoughts about her overall performance after finishing eighth: “…I just tried to hold my own and stay consistent and when somebody passed me, not freak out or anything…”

Duke around Woodruff

Lap 3 provided a very strong test of Nicole Duke’s calm and bike-handling skills when Chloe Woodruff slid out on the off-camber “Pete’s Plunge” portion of the course.

“I have never heard my name called more in a race in my life. It was like every second somebody said my name,” Duke said. “It was so cool and there was so much encouragement. Even if I didn’t do as well as I wanted to and get on the podium it was like one of the best races of my life. Just hearing everyone out here was awesome.

“I just wanted to have a solid race and not be disappointed.” And she wasn’t. From Duke’s point of view, attendance at Valmont ranked among the biggest spectator showings she’s experienced at a nationals event.

Georgia Gould enjoys the feeling of winning while finishing fifth

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) lined up behind Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), hoping for a fast start from the nine-time champion. Compton – who told Gould her potential for a good start based recent performance was about 50/50 – missed her pedal. Gould rode in about ninth position early in the race and worked her way up to a fifth place finish.

Georgia Gould fends off a tenacious Rachel Lloyd

Georgia Gould fends off a tenacious Rachel Lloyd

“The crowd was – I felt like I was winning the race the whole time,” Gould said in a dirtwire.tv video post-race. “It was awesome. People were going bazooka out there. It was so fun. I wish I had the legs to ride the way I wanted to for everyone out there…”

Katie Compton deals with the pressure of going for nationals win number ten

The national champion took a start position in the middle of the front row. She appeared calm and confident, arriving with superb late-season fitness.

Missing a pedal at the start didn’t cost her much. Sitting in about eighth position into the first turn, she flew up the ensuing long hill and was the first of the women to greet the top section of the course. Only Cal Giant’s Elle Anderson could try to hang onto Compton’s pace. She soon succumbed and Compton won her tenth US championship.

Katie Compton ahead of Elle Anderson in lap two, carrying the new Trek Boone

Katie Compton ahead of Elle Anderson in lap two, carrying the new Trek Boone

“It feels pretty good,” Compton told the media about extending her winning streak. “It was hard today with everyone talking about number ten. It was a little more pressure. It builds every year. It was amazing, everyone was so loud and cheering. It was pretty special, that last lap, I took some time to take it all in and appreciate it.”

Kristen Peterson celebrates racing in a robust women’s field

This Evol Foods rider is relatively new to cyclocross and comes from a triathlon background. She competed well during the 2013/14 local Colorado racing scene.

How did she describe racing nationals, in one word? “Awesome.” Then she added, “You can’t ask for anything more, having nationals in your backyard and on a course that we train on every week. Yea, it’s just so cool to be out here with all the women. I mean 115 women were on the start line, so you just love to see the progress in the sport.”

Peterson finished forty-fifth among the sixty finishers on the lead lap.

Evol Foods teammates (l - r) Kristen Peterson, Jess D'Amato, Kate Powlison

Evol Foods teammates (l – r) Kristen Peterson, Jess D’Amato, Kate Powlison

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