ROUBAIX, FRANCE: Katie Compton (TREK) claimed her third consecutive World Cup win as she overcame no less than three crashes to catch and power away from race-long leader Sanne van Paassen in the closing corners of the race.

Katie Compton overcame a number of crashes to win at Roubaix © Bart Hazen

Katie Compton overcame a number of crashes to win at Roubaix © Bart Hazen


It was a devastating day for the Elite women, as Helen Wyman (Kona), Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Suntour), Katie Compton and Sanne Cant (BKCP) all suffered hard early crashes on the challenging course at Roubaix. Sanne Cant suffered the worst of it, failing to get back up after she and Compton went down together on a tricky off-camber descent. As Cant remained down, gripping her arm and eventually being lifted off the course by paramedics, Compton recovered and set about a long chase to reel in first Nikki Harris, then Swiss Champion Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus), and finally bringing Sanne van Paassen into her sights.

Van Paassen, however, was riding a fast, technically perfect race while Compton’s power was continually marred by small mistakes. Nor was Compton’s opening-lap crash to be her only one, as she again crashed on the descent and with three to go went sprawling as she transitioned from pavement to cobblestones. Undeterred, the World Cup leader pushed on, and made contact with Van Passen in the final lap. The two traded leads a few times, but it was Van Paassen’s decision to run the off-camber descent that she had previously ridden that decided the race, as Compton rode the hill and powered away as van Paassen remounted. Compton had little left ahead of her but open velodrome, and she opened up her engine to pull a full eight seconds out on van Paassen by the time she crossed the finish line, clearly happy to be done with a difficult race.

“I kept on making stupid mistakes,” said Compton after the race. “The crash on the pavement wasn’t pretty. I probably crashed on the downhill too, but I don’t remember. [Sanne van Paassen] definitely rode a smoother, better race, I just managed to pull it together at the end. I salvaged it, but it wasn’t pretty. I am the leader despite today’s debacle, so I’m happy with that.”

Jasmin Achermann had a fantastic race, finishing not far off the leaders in third. Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) outsprinted Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (HITEC) for fourth, and Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) rounded out the top five. American Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) again took 11th, and European Champion Helen Wyman, whose crash saw her running half a lap to pit, took 13th.

Carnage at the start

On a chilly French morning, the Elite women lined up at the historical Roubaix velodrome to contest the fourth round of the 2012/13 World Cup Cyclocross series. Pavla Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea) took the holeshot, with Sanne van Paassen right on her wheel. Katie Compton came off the line with a poor start, hitting the dirt well of the front.

As the racers rounded the corner leading into the first sand pit, van Paassen had the lead, with Havlakova on her wheel. Helen Wyman, sporting her new European Champion skinsuit, came hot into the sand and moved up the inside, looking to overtake the lead position. However, both van Paassen and Havlakova moved abruptly to the inside—likely due to the sand not yet well tracked—and collided with Wyman. The two leaders stayed upright, while Wyman came crashing down, taking Sabrina Stultiens and Lucie Lefevre-Chainel down as well. Katie Compton just managed to avoid the carnage, squeezing past the pile of bikes on the outside.

The crash saw the end to Wyman’s bid for the win, as she found her bike unrideable upon getting up and had to make the long run to the pit.

All of that was behind van Paassen, however, as the Rabobank rider shed Havlikova and established the solo lead that she would maintain until Compton caught her on the final lap. Nikki Harris, Sanne Cant, Jasmin Achermann, Havlikova and Compton all chased behind.

On the back half of the course, however, disaster struck for Cant. According to Compton, the American was close on Cant’s wheel when the Belgian decided to dismount heading into the first of the course’s two tricky, off-camber descents. The move surprised Compton, and as both were heading for the same line, Compton collided with Cant, sending both careening down the steep hill in a hard, blunt crash. Compton quickly remounted, losing precious seconds, but Cant did not move.

Up ahead, Harris and Achermann were chasing van Paassen, as behind Compton lost a number of places as she realized the crash had broken one of her spokes. She was able to ride to the nearby pits, but again had her work cut out for her as she set about making up lost positions.

As the racers came around for the next lap, Cant was being tended to by a team of medics. It appears that the Belgian champion broke her collarbone, as she was holding her arm, and was placed in a neck brace and a stretcher. Nikki Harris, in hot pursuit of van Passen, nearly collided with the medics on the narrow turn as she swooped by.

Compton Rallies Despite Bad Luck

With five to go, Achermann had passed Harris, and Compton had moved her way back into fourth position, then sailed past the Telenet-Fidea rider. This time, Compton went down on the second descent, sliding down the hill but quickly recovering. Compton then caught Achermann, and with three laps to go was within striking distance of van Passen when she went down a third time as she slid out on the wet transition from the pavement to the brief cobblestone section. The crash gave van Paassen back her lead and allowed Achermann to catch back onto Compton’s wheel.

Undaunted, however, Compton merely got back on and continued to power along, losing a bit in the technical sections but gaining handfuls where she could push the pedals. By the last lap, the U.S. champion had finally made contact with the race leader. Van Paassen has shown in the past to have a strong sprint, so if the two came to the line together chances were good she would take the win over Compton’s slower diesel. In turn, if Compton could eke out a gap before the wide-open finishing stretch, her incredible power might take her uncontested to the line. As the two wound around the final lap, it was unclear which strategy would win out—until van Paassen made the only technical error of an otherwise perfect race when she chose to dismount and run the descent that she had thus far rode cleanly. Compton, sensing that this was her chance, bombed the hill and threw herself into her pedals as van Paassen lost precious moments remounting. The race, then, was over.

Bart Hazen Photo Gallery:

2012 World Cup Roubaix Women

1Katherine COMPTONUSA42:24:00
2Sanne VAN PAASSENNED42:32:00
3Jasmin ACHERMANNSUI42:52:00
4Nikki HARRISGBR43:16:00
5Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAUFRA43:16:00
6Gabriella DAYGBR43:43:00
7Pavla HAVLIKOVACZE43:43:00
8Ellen VAN LOYBEL43:43:00
9Eva LECHNERITA43:47:00
10Martina MIKULASKOVACZE43:49:00
11Amy DOMBROSKIUSA43:52:00
13Helen WYMANGBR44:13:00
14Arenda GRIMBERGNED44:24:00
16Pauline FERRAND PREVOTFRA44:37:00
17Reza HORMESNED44:37:00
18Sabrina STULTIENSNED45:07:00
19Sabrina SCHWEIZERGER45:20:00
20Alice Maria ARZUFFIITA45:50:00
21Kim VAN DE STEENEBEL46:03:00
22Elena VALENTINIITA46:17:00
23Lise-Marie HENZELINSUI46:27:00
24Elisabeth BRANDAUGER46:38:00
25Githa MICHIELSBEL46:40:00
26Asa Maria ERLANDSSONSWE46:45:00
27Tereza MEDVEDOVASVK47:00:00
28Joyce VANDERBEKENBEL47:22:00
29Nancy BOBERBEL47:40:00
30Evy KUIJPERSNED47:41:00
31Eva COLINFRA48:08:00
33Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURGDEN
35Katrien THIJSBEL

Stay tuned for full report, photos and results!