Katie Clouse wins first cyclocross race this season after mixed program in Europe
Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru) appears to have turbo-charged an already swift sprint to cyclocross finish lines thanks to special summer training: road racing against boys in Belgium.
On Saturday the 15 year-old outsprinted Melissa Barker (Evol Racing) and Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport / YogaGlo)—current and former masters national champions, respectively—for the women’s elite win at Valmont Bike Park in the second race of the Cyclo X series.
The threesome shadowed each other from just after the start. In the final dash to the line Weber dropped back, leaving Clouse and Barker neck and neck to contest the win. Clouse had a bit more in the tank at the end, outpacing Barker in the final meters for the victory.
It was Clouse’s first ‘cross race this season. Three weeks ago she returned from just over a month in Europe where she competed in six races with the 15 to 18 year-old girls and four races with the 15 to 16 boys.
The trip was her first visit to the center of international cycling. She took away four wins from the contests against her gender mates.
She took a beating against the boys, but she’s glad she lined up with them.
“I liked racing with the boys more because I didn’t have to worry about placing high,” Clouse said on Saturday. “I just had to worry about working my guts out trying to stay with them.”
The four-time national junior cyclocross champion said the average speed in the boys’ 90 kilometer kermesses—local circuit races with longer laps than a standard American criterium—clocked in about 60 k per hour on flat courses. That’s 37 miles per hour.
Speed magnified the challenge, but the boys’ approach to tackling the corners on course presented the primary test. And there were lots of corners.
“These guys would come to a complete stop and then sprint out of the corners. That’s what tired me out, braking, sprinting, braking, sprinting. All that acceleration, it kept on. It just killed me,” she said.
“But I think Europe is really going to help my form this ‘cross season.”
It seems it already has.