Kaitlin Antonneau in Namur. © Bart Hazen
Kaitlin Antonneau may only by 19 years old, but this season, she’s been on fire in the cyclocross world. Most recently, Antonneau scored her arguably best placing this season, coming in 10th in the World Cup race in Namur, Belgium last weekend.
by Bart Hazen
Cyclocross Magazine: Can you introduce yourself?
Kaitlin Antonneau: I am nineteen years old. I race cyclocross for Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com and I race on the road for Exergy TWENTY12. I am currently in my second year of college studying Exercise Science at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
CXM: How did you get involved with cycling? And is cycling (or sports in general) a family business?
KA: My mom took my sister and me to the velodrome by our house when I was seven. I raced there every summer on my stock bike until I was ten. I was then introduced to the track bike and fell in love with that. I quickly was introduced to the road and cyclocross disciplines and couldn’t get enough. I always wanted to be riding my bike. My sister and I were very active growing up, we were always involved in sports.
CXM: What kind of rider are you?
KA: I’m not really sure if I can pinpoint exactly what type of rider I am yet. So far, I have excelled in cyclocross the most but I also really enjoy the road. I would like to try mountain biking sometime in the future as well.
CXM: I have read somewhere that if you were not a cyclist you would love to do cross country skiing? But they are two total different sports, apart from both are being winter sports.
KA: Yes, growing up I would cross country ski with my dad all the time during the winter for cross training. Cycling and skiing are two very different sports. I guess I could say it was more of a hobby. I think getting the technique down was the hardest part of the sport for me. My form improved each winter. Though, regardless of how fast I was going, I always saw it to be enjoyable.
CXM: How do you look back at the first part of this cyclocross season?
KA: I am very happy with the first part of my ’cross season. I have several races that I am very proud of. Looking back and comparing it to the beginning of last year’s season, I see many improvements and I am racing a lot more consistently.
CXM: What will be your goals for the remainder of the cyclocross season?
KA: I would like to continue to stay healthy and consistent. I hope to have good races at the next two World Cups I will be doing, I have big goals for myself at the National Championships in January and hope to be selected for the Worlds Team.
CXM: What is your favorite ’cross race in both USA and Europe?
KA: I’ve only done three ’cross races in Europe so far, but out of the three I think Hoogerheide is my favorite. In the US my favorite race is probably the USGP weekend in Portland.
CXM: Recently you finished in the top 20 of the World Cup in Koksijde. Do you like the course? And with the experience you have now what are your expectations for the World Championships on the same course.
KA: I really liked the course at Koksijde. It was very different from any course I have ever raced on. Going to race the World Cup in Koksijde was a great experience and I really benefitted from going over to do the race. I learned what the course is like and I learned a lot of things that I need to work on. With hopes of being picked to represent the United States at the World Championships this January, I am working on a few of those things now in my training and hope to better my Top 20 finish to a Top 15.
CXM: Last year and also this year you have done several world cups and you competed in last years World Championships in St. Wendel. How would you describe cyclocross in Europe and cyclocross in the United States?
KA: I know ’cross in the US is growing and each year the competition is deeper and the courses are more challenging. Although, I think there are still a lot of differences between European cross and US ’cross. Like I said, I’ve only done three ’cross races in Europe so far, two World Cups and the World Championships, but it is obvious to me that the courses in Europe are harder than the courses in the states and the speed and depth of the racing in Europe is a lot deeper and faster.
CXM: You are riding for the Cannondale prepared by Cyclocrossworld.com team during the winter to develop into a top-level cyclocross rider. What are the benefits of riding in such a team alongside top ’crossers as Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll?
KA: I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be on the same team as Tim and Jamey. I really believe I have matured as a person and as a cyclist by spending time with them each weekend during the ’cross season. Both of them have helped me to become more confident in my racing. I have formed several special relationships on this team and I am very thankful for that.
CXM: On the road you are riding for the Exergy-TWENTY12 team. What are your road ambitions for 2012?
KA: Exergy-TWENTY12 has an amazing Elite Women roster lined up for the 2012 season. I am extremely honored to be a part of that roster again this season. I learned so much from being on the team last year and hope to expand that knowledge and race as well as I can for the team. I really enjoy being a team player.
CXM: Next to road and cyclocross you also compete in track events. How do you manage to compete in all these events during a year on such a young age?
KA: I don’t find it hard to balance the three disciplines. At this point in my cycling, I am happy to do all three disciplines. I feel it keeps me well rounded and I have found that each discipline benefits the other in a way.
CXM: Which of these events you like the most? And in which one you want to excel in in a few years?
KA: Cyclocross is definitely my favorite discipline. I enjoy it the most out of the three that I do. I don’t think I am ready pick one yet because I have good opportunities on the road right now as well.
CXM: What will be your goals on long term as a person and as a cyclist?
KA: As a cyclist, I would like to continue to progress each year and getting strong fitness wise and technical wise. I want to go as far as I can with my cycling career. I think I am on the right track and with the right group of people to help me reach those goals. As a person, I want to be the best person I can be and live life to the fullest.
CXM: Who are your role models?
KA: Katie Compton is my biggest role model. I have looked up to her for many years. During my last year as a junior, she began to coach me and kind of took me under her wing. She has taught me a lot about cycling and life as well. She always helps me to see the bigger picture.
CXM: Do you have any rituals you have to do each day or before a race?
KA: During the week I have a bedtime. I try really hard to make sure all my school work and studying is done before dinner so that I can go to bed early. During race weekends when we stay at hotels, I like to have breakfast with Jamey (Driscoll). It’s something that we’ve done since I started riding for Cannondale, so I guess that’s kind of become a ritual before races.
CXM: What is Katie doing when not riding a bike?
KA: When I don’t have to study, I really love to decorate cakes. I also really enjoy reading and spending time with my family.
CXM: What do we have to know from you what most people don’t know?
KA: I was a vegetarian for three years.
CXM: Why the change?
KA: The first time I went to Europe as a junior, we were riding so much and the racing was really hard and I wasn’t getting enough protein. At home, my mom was always there making sure I was getting enough and eating the right things. When I was on this three week trip in Europe, I think I just broke down. I came back from a really hard ride and just ate three huge turkey and ham sandwiches. I think it’s too hard to be a vegetarian when I am an elite athlete.
CXM: Final question. What is your motto?
KA: Be respectful. Be gracious. Be humble. This is the way I try to live my life to the fullest.