Kaitlin Antonneau had a strong early race, but a crash dropped her out of contention © Focal Flame Photography

Here at Nationals, Kaitlin Antonneau had a strong early race, but a crash dropped her out of contention © Focal Flame Photography

by Cody Sovis

At just 21 years old, Kaitie Antonneau made her third ever World Championships start at Louisville. Already thought of as the future of American cyclocross, Antonneau proved she is also the present with an outstanding tenth place finish in the biggest race of her career. The phenom is already set for an historic career, and she’s still got another year as a U-23 to complete.

Antonneau’s race at Louisville went well, riding steadily in groups to a solid top ten just ahead of fellow American Amy Dombroksi. She was happy with the result, and confirmed it was a part of her goal heading into Worlds after a successful Nationals. “For sure, I’m very happy. Everyone who was ahead of me were all so strong and no one was a surprise. I had to be on to be riding where I was,” she said, now recovering from a long cyclocross campaign with some well-deserved time away from the bike.

Louisville was a huge moment for Antonneau and one she won’t soon forget. “The whole experience, the whole day, was just so special. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. So many people and fans, it was jaw-dropping. Pre-riding I was making all these mistakes, and I knew I had to relax and just take it all in.” She was unfazed by the day-early start, taking the rescheduling of the Elite races in stride.

With a tenth place at Worlds, Antonneau says her expectations are as high as ever, bolstered by the confidence such a great showing brings with it. “It made me realize that it is possible for me to perform well at Worlds. This time I was actually in it, the last two I was just sort of riding around. It inspires me to do more.” With one more year of college in order, she’ll likely keep a similar schedule, including her familiar two World Cup trips to Europe, while raising the bar domestically.

So what’s next for Kaitie Antonneau? It’s been a very busy return to classes, and three full weeks off the bike before attentions are turned to the road season. She’ll race her collegiate schedule while building her form ahead of the summer season, while also throwing in something new: she’ll “dabble into some mountain biking,” an exciting proposition from a tough rider with great bike handling skills.