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Meredith Miller gets Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team’s first win

September 8, 2014
Meredith Miller suggested placing the Amy Dombroski Foundation label on the Noosa kit's inside collar

Meredith Miller suggested placing the Amy Dombroski Foundation label on the Noosa kit’s left inside collar

[updated 9/10/2014]

So much is new for Meredith Miller: just married one week ago, different pre-cyclocross season preparation, and a new team in Noosa Pro Cyclocross. But the form and desire that delivered a hard-fought podium place at nationals last January hasn’t changed; on Sunday she brought Noosa its first win at KickIt Cross in Castle Rock, CO.

“I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen today,” she said post-race, mentioning her wedding and teaching a clinic the day before in Chicago. “The last couple of weeks has been a little bit chaotic and all over the place. But obviously I was OK with it. I just wanted to come out here today and do a dry run for the team really…Everything is new.”

Foremost she intended to gauge the team’s new equipment performance as well as build a race partnership with mechanic Erik Maresjo who will look after her Focus Mares with Daimeon Shanks this season.

“In all the years I’ve been racing I’ve always been on Specialized for ‘cross. So it was a big switch for me. And so far I’ve absolutely loved being on the Focus.” KickIt was Miller’s third outing running SRAM’s CX-1 groupset. “I kept thinking as I was out there how smoothly it was working. It’s so quiet, no chain bouncing around. The bike, the MXP tires from Clement, CX-1, it was all really great.” CX-1 works with a single chain ring.

With conditions nearly entirely dry on Sunday, riders didn’t require many bike changes save for flats. However Miller took the opportunity to rehearse swapping bikes with Maresjo. “I’m always nervous to do bike changes and so I made myself do it today just to practice,” she said. “Everything went off great in the pit.”

Caroline Mani defended and finished second at KickIt Cross

Caroline Mani defended and finished second at KickIt Cross

Miller’s dominance in the women’s elite race provided a comfortable cushion for visiting the pit. Soon after the start the riders bumped off wide pavement onto a narrow section of turf. Miller led from the holeshot to the finish, nearly doubling the gap between her and second place Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement) with each of the four laps.

Boulder Cycle Sport’s Kristin Weber started fast as well. She rode third on course until Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports) earned that spot during the second lap. Mani held steady in second through the finish, just over a minute behind Miller. Vestal came in 15 seconds later for third. Weber arrived next after about a minute thirty seconds, followed by Melissa Barker in a new team kit this year, Evol Racing, for fifth.

Evol Racing’s Kate Powlison and Kristen Peterson, Lisa Hudson (Feedback Sports), Rebecca Blatt (Van Dessel), and Tracy Yates (Giant Southwest Racing) completed the top ten.

This year Miller’s ‘cross season preparation diverged considerably from previous years’ models. After competition concluded last winter, she spent one month “pretty much completely off the bike. I don’t remember when I took a break that long,” she said.

Contrary to popular belief at that time, Miller’s “retirement” was only ever from road racing; she hadn’t intended to end her cyclocross career. “Without a contract on the road, I was like, ‘I going to have to get a job and I don’t know what my job is going to look like,’” she explained. “And so I wasn’t quite sure how much time I would have for ‘cross but I knew in some capacity I wanted to keep racing [cyclocross].”

Over the spring and summer she celebrated turning 40 in 2013 by mixing it up with mountain bike competitions, long gravel excursions, and rides while acting as an ambassador for Rapha. In August Miller tackled the Cedar City Grand Prix and Tour of Utah Women’s Edition road races.

“From February to July I was just riding and having fun and not worrying about when I was on my bike and what I was doing that day. That was a really nice change and just a good kind of relaxing way to approach the season.” Toward late summer she reconnected with her coach, Neal Henderson, to begin a more structured program.

Caitlyn Vestal racing the third at KickIt Cross

Caitlyn Vestal racing the third at KickIt Cross

KickIt arrived with a just a handful of nerves as her team’s debut. “It is new colors, I wanted to represent well. Even though it was kind of low key and results weren’t the focus of today, I still wanted to do well.”

Just before the race, she promised new teammate Allen Krughoff as much.

Krughoff had joked with her about the pressure she bore as the first of the two to race wearing the new team’s kit. Don’t embarrass us, he cautioned. In reply she said, “Don’t worry, you’re going to have big shoes to fill.”

And she was right.

Based on the outcome of KickIt, it looks like all systems go for Noosa at Cross Vegas this Wednesday. Miller noted that several women coming off mountain bike worlds who have just peaked should be there, like Katerina Nash, as well as ten-time national champion Katie Compton.

“It’s going to be a really tough field this year,” she said. Then she began an I don’t really know kind of laugh and added, “I hate setting expectations for myself and then being disappointed if I don’t meet them.

“And it’s still early in the season; it’s hard to be like, ‘I’ve got to be on the podium,’ because it’s a long season. And I want to do well in January.”

Meredith wins 2014 KickIt Cross in first ride for Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team

Meredith Miller wins 2014 KickIt Cross in first ride for Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team

Gallery (several categories of women’s races)

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