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Reigning mountain bike World Cup champ Kate Courtney is laser-focused on Olympic dreams, but after she makes her run at rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021, the 24-year-old American could try her hand at cyclocross.
In a wide-ranging story by Neal Rogers for The Red Bulletin focusing on Courtney and fellow American cycling star Chloé Dygert, Courtney said that she is considering making an appearance at the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships. The race will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in January of that year.
“I have no aspirations of being the greatest cyclocross racer,” Courtney, the 2018 cross-country world champion, told The Red Bulletin. “But I think there’s a lot of skills that could help me, and long-term it’s something I’m interested in trying now that I don’t have school during the fall.”
In the feature, which offers an in-depth look at their backgrounds and their approaches to life and training, Courtney and Dygert discussed their preparations and objectives for what lies ahead.
For both riders, who share common aspirations of riding to gold in Tokyo despite their very different personalities, the yearlong Olympic postponement has meant a change in plans, but not a change in objectives.
“I feel like a broken record saying this, as it’s what everybody says, but you have to control your controllables,” Dygert said.
“For me this has no change on my life except that I can’t race. Which to me, is fine. I’m not stressed, because I know I don’t need to race to be fit. I train alone most of the time, I live alone, and I like to be alone, so this really hasn’t impacted my training or added any stress to my life. Obviously it’s a bummer that the Games have been postponed, but I guess it means I have another year to get even fitter.”
After that year is up, both riders will start among the top favorites for gold in events at next year’s Games; Courtney is all-in for the Olympic mountain bike event, while Dygert is targeting the team pursuit and the individual time trial, and will also line up the road race.
Tokyo will mark Courtney’s first Olympic appearance and Dygert’s second. The reigning world time trial champ rode to an Olympic silver with the American team pursuit squad in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Their Olympic goals are top of mind for now, but beyond that, both riders do have a few other items on the to-do list.
For Courtney, a foray into the cyclocross world could come after Tokyo. For Dygert, a number of major road racing objectives seem likely to come next.
For a rider with one of the most impressive engines in the peloton, a run at Classics like the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche seems natural, as does an attempt to break the UCI Hour Record. The general classification of the Giro Rosa would be a whole different ballgame for a rider with her skillset, but she may even target that pink jersey at some point in the future.
A former MTB world champ’s interest in a Worlds appearance in a whole new discipline and a TT champ’s interest in cycling’s premier event for the climbers could take both riders outside of their respective wheelhouses—but that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to make their aspirations a reality.
After all, Courtney and Dygert have both ascended to the very top echelons of cycling before turning 25, so the road ahead seems pretty wide open.