The only thing worse than finishing second at the national championships is finishing second at the national championships two years in a row.
Colorado's Kristin Weber (Full Cycle Cyclocross) has learned that the hard way, taking second in the Masters 40-44 race in Hartford and second in the 45-49 contest in Reno. She headed to the start line in Louisville wishing to snap the second slide and add a second Stars-and-Stripes jersey to the one she won in 2015.
From the green light, Weber put herself in a position to be successful. She led the first descent into the bowl and climb back up toward the limestone steps.
Sitting first wheel and already holding an advantage, Weber got her chance to really open things up early on when the woman in second position slipped and fell on the climb toward the off-camber, holding up all the other riders behind her.
Weber had over 10 seconds to work with halfway into the first lap. At the end of one lap, her lead was 14 seconds on Katrina Dowidchuk (Colavita - Whole Foods Market Racing), Jane Burlew and Kristal Boni (Rapid Racing).
From there, Weber rolled to a National Championship, getting the second-place monkey off her back.
"Thank you Christina Gokey-Smith for not showing up this year. She's such a powerhouse," Weber said after her win. "I'm really fired up. I won in 2015, and I've been trying and trying and trying to get that back, so it's nice to get it back a couple years later."
Redemption in Louisville
From the first minute of the race, Weber showed that she wanted to put the title shot in her hands and not leave things up to fate—or another rider's mistake.
"Someone else got the holeshot and I was like 'I want to be first in the sand.' So I went around wide, thats the nice thing about this start, its really wide, and tried to keep being smooth," Weber said. "I was like 'smooth, smooth' the whole ride."
Weber led the field into the bowl and then back up toward the off-camber and the limestone stairs. She had a small gap on the others when she got to the top of the first climb. It got bigger thanks to one of the mistakes she was looking to avoid being part of.
"I just decided to go for it from the get go cause I wanted to be first into that technical section," Weber said about her plan.
The woman sitting second wheel slipped at the top of the climb, forcing others off the bike and holding things up like a bottleneck. Weber's small lead grew into a 10-second advantage by the time she ran up the stairs.
At the end of the first lap, Weber's advantage was 14 seconds on Boni, Dowidchuk and Burlew.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Weber. She extended her lead to 26 seconds and 46 seconds three laps into the five-lap race. When the race was over, Weber had turned in the five fastest laps of the race.
Not a bad way to take back the Stars-and-Stripes and break the second-place curse.
I come from Colorado, so we do a lot of climbing," Weber said. "The climbing was good for me. I just had lots of fans out there cheering me on, and it was really great to hear all of the cheers of support. That helped me get up those long drags up there."
Behind Weber, Boni, Dowidchuck and Burlew locked into a battle for second. The group stayed together until the penultimate lap when Burlew got an advantage on the others in the bowl. She held off Dowidchuk in the last lap to take the silver. Dowidchuk, in turn, held off Boni to take third.
For more from the race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Kristin Weber: Winner Interview