by Robbie Carver

This Sunday, Optum Pro Cycling’s Jade Wilcoxson will be lining up alongside Katie Compton for the Elite Women’s World Cyclocross Championship – for the first time in her career, in her first season as a cyclocross racer.

Jade Wilcoxson had the cyclocross race of her life, catching and outsprinting Nicole Duke for second at the 2013 National Championships © Meg McMahon

Jade Wilcoxson had the cyclocross race of her life, catching and outsprinting Nicole Duke for second at the 2013 National Championships © Meg McMahon

The 34-year-old professional road racer took an impressive and unexpected second place at the 2013 National Championships, overcoming a third row start and early crashes to reach, and outsprint, Nicole Duke for silver – grabbing the attention of the Worlds selection committee by doing so. Recently, we caught up with Wilcoxson when she stopped by Portland last week to fine-tune her engine with Sue and Tim Butler. Be sure to check out her full interview with Wilcoxson, in which she discusses her season, her training, and her diet, in our upcoming Issue 20!

“It’s a great feeling,” said Wilcoxson of being selected. “I was pretty honored that they saw my potential and selected me for the team. There’s a lot of selections that they could have made. Everybody’s been riding pretty consistently lately, so I’m pretty happy that it was me. A lot of girls equally deserve that spot.”

“I didn’t even know about the whole petition process,” said Wilcoxson, when asked about getting on the Worlds team. “That’s how new I am to this whole sport. I was back at my team tent, and Mark Gullikson came in an introduced himself. I didn’t even know who he was! He told me the process, that I didn’t petition for Worlds. I asked, Is it too late? He said yes.”

It may have ended up being a lesson learned for next year, but Wilcoxson’s continued rise through the field, and performance at Nationals, had earned her a consideration. “Then he said, if I can get your name in there, do you want to race Worlds? I said sure. The team was all shaking their heads yes—you do!”

Wilcoxson had come to Madison straight from Los Angeles, where she had been training on the track as part of her season build-up. Monday saw her back in southern California, where she first learned she’d made the Worlds team. “I was sitting in gridlocked traffic in L.A. I wasn’t checking the news or Twitter or whatever, and I just started getting a ton of texts from people. My first text was from my mechanic and he was like, we’re going to Worlds! I couldn’t call anybody; I just wanted to hug some people, but I’m stuck in L.A. traffic! It was kind of anti-climactic.”

“All season, I’ve been racing with Katie, and people ask me what it’s like to line up with Katie Compton. I’m like, I don’t know, I never see her! I’m back in the third row, and once we start, I don’t see her the entire race! She’s amazing. She’s had such an awesome year, and she has a great shot at winning the World championship. I kinda wish I could see it!”

One bummer? With Worlds in the United States, many European teams chose not to send a full women’s squad, making the field a much smaller affair. “It’s really too bad that we’re only going to have thirty women lining up,” she said.

As for her own ambitions, Wilcoxson was modest. “Like with every race, I don’t put too much pressure on myself. I’m going to enjoy the experience, appreciate it for what it is. I’ll bust my ass when the gun goes off, and do everything I possibly can to get as close to the podium as I can. If at any point in the race I can help any of my teammates, do anything for them tactically, I’m happy to do that as well. There’s thirty riders out there, the US has six, so we’re a fifth of the field! I’m a roadie, Meredith is a roadie, ditto Kaitlin Anntonneau. So we definitely know how to use tactics, and it would be great if we could.”

For the busy professional athlete, Sunday’s race won’t mark the end of the season, but instead the beginning of her road ambitions. “I fly directly from Louisville to LA to start my training camp. After camp, I have a couple of days at home, and then I’m flying to Europe to race road with the US national team and do the spring classics.”

But if Wilcoxson’s learned anything from her first year of cyclocross, it’s how to take a step back, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere. “Oh yeah, I’ll be at the after-party. I don’t fly out for my training camp until Tuesday, so I asked my coach—how do you feel about me doing a bourbon tour on Monday? So my brother is actually flying out to watch, and we’ll do a big bourbon tour together.”

Don’t miss our LIVE STREAMING VIDEO of the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships. And for all the latest news, results, photos and videos from the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships and Masters World Championships in Louisville, KY, keep checking our 2013 Cyclocross World Championships page.