Duke was feeling good in the race, until a crash at the barriers took her out of contention. © Cyclocross Magazine

Duke was feeling good in the race, until a crash at the barriers took her out of contention. © Cyclocross Magazine

When Nicole Duke rolled up to the start line at the warm April cyclocross race at Sea Otter, she was feeling great, and super confident. And while she, Mical Dyck and Caroline Mani started out together, a crash at the barriers that at best bruised her rib, and at worst, broke it, took her out of contention for the win. She ended up hanging on to third by a large margin, but told us that she was disappointed.

“We were all together, and it was the last lap and I was feeling super strong, I was like, ‘I got this, this is easy, I’m riding at 40%,’ and then in the back barrier, I could not get out of my pedal and ran right into it.”

“So that was it. I tried to catch them, and I was feeling really strong. I gained on them, but there was no way I could make up that time,” she added.

What’s in store for Duke? “I’m not sure. I’m winging it,” she admits. She then adds in something that surprised me, since her struggles with finding a team last season are the stuff of cyclocross legend. “I’m still looking for sponsorship, so I’d ride for a bike company that let me do enduro races and gravel racing, and then also ’cross.”

This makes sense, since Duke’s history is as a downhill racer. “The new enduro, downhill-style race, I’m really excited to try it but I don’t have a bike yet.” While she loves her Alchemy Balius cyclocross bikes, it’s obvious that Duke is craving the team environment that she had on Raleigh-Clement and Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld.

“My goal is to train and have fun during the summer and then be more serious going into ’cross,” she finished.

Check out her full interview below, where I attempt to not make Duke laugh because her ribs are hurting:

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