Georgia Gould (Luna) dropped her teammates Stetson Lee and Nash to win the Women's Cyclocross race at the 2012 Sea Otter Classic.

Georgia Gould (Luna) dropped her teammates Stetson Lee and Nash to win the Women’s Cyclocross race at the 2012 Sea Otter Classic. © Tim Westmore

by Cody Sovis

With Nationals just around the corner, riders are making final preparations heading into one of the big targets for US racers. While many top riders made the trip to Europe for the final World Cup starts, the ever-dangerous Georgia Gould stayed stateside to gear up on home turf. After an especially long season that’s already paid off with an Olympic bronze medal, Gould has been happily lying low after taking the USGP series win by eight points.That’s another victory she’s proud of in a year that’s sprinkled with monumental wins. After racing an especially long mountain bike season to qualify for the London Olympics, Gould switched gears and focus quickly heading into the late fall. “The USGP is always a big goal. They really value women’s racing there, and with no plans of going to Europe it was always a big goal to win that title,” she said.

As one of the more experienced riders in the women’s field, it has taken an unbelievably comprehensive program to stay fresh all the way into January. Gould had to show some restraint, skipping a number of races she enjoys throughout the end of the year to make sure she has enough in the tank to really challenge at Nationals. Even with what she calls a “conservative” schedule, she’s still not on top form after such a tough season. “For not being 100 percent, I’ve still been pretty consistently one of the best,” she commented, and the results back it up. Her USGP series win proved her solid performances, and she’s been in the hunt at nearly every race over the past three months.

The favorite heading to Madison is Katie Compton (TREK Cyclocross Collective), but Gould knows it’s unwise to count anyone out. “Katie is a favorite, she’s riding super-strong, but that being said, the first year I won MTB Nats, I’d never won a big level race before. The best I’d finished was fifth. No one would have picked me. So I never count anybody out. The women’s field is strong and we will see how it goes. Anything can happen to anybody.” Compton’s demanding schedule at the World Cups doesn’t seem to have her drained yet, but time will tell if it has an impact.

Gould decided to skip Europe, and weighed the benefits and drawbacks before deciding to stick around the US. “The rest is huge. The points, the automatic qualification would have been nice, but being blown out from travel isn’t worth it. And things have been going well here.” Without the World Cup starts, Gould is still looking to be confirmed for Worlds in February, but she’s satisfied with the rest, the results, and the opportunity to earn her selection by taking her first Stars and Stripes in cyclocross. “I always take it really seriously, and to wear the national champion’s jersey is really important to me. I might have more second place finishes than anyone out there!” And she probably does. In every start she’s made at Nationals since 2006, she’s been on the middle step of the podium.

It’s been a long season with a number of career highlights already in the bag, but if anyone has enough left to surprise Katie Compton next weekend, it’s Georgia Gould.

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