Kaitlin Antonneau, the reigning Div. 1 collegiate road cycling champion, proved equally fast in the mud on Saturday.
A Racine native and sophomore at Marian University, Antonneau took advantage of a bobble by her teammate, Coryn Rivera, late on the first of four laps and stayed out front to win the collegiate race in the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships.
In 2010, Antonneau finished second in the collegiate race, then beat the field in the U23 division. She will go for a weekend double on Sunday in the Elite/U23 race.
It will be one of the final races in the national championships contested over a rutted and muddy 2.1-mile loop in Badger Prairie Park in Verona.
The elite women's race starts at noon and the country's best male cyclo-cross riders will take the start line at 2:15 p.m.
Antonneau's victory on Saturday added to the strong performances by local riders.
Corrie Osborne (ISCorp Cycling Team) moved up an age group this year but stayed out front to win her second national title on Friday.
The teen from Mequon broke away from Allison Arensman on lap two of the junior 17-18 race and pulled away for the win. Osborne won the 15-16 age group in the 2010.
"My coach was building me up to this race so I'm at my peak right now." Osborne said. "So it's really good."
Osborne was one of 10 competitors to take the top step of the podium Friday in the USA Cycling championships contested on a 2.1-mile course in Badger Prairie Park in Verona.
More masters category races will take place under the sunshine on Saturday. The day's schedule also includes the female collegiate championship and the men's U23 race.
The elite men and elite women will race on Sunday, capping five days of cyclo-cross to crown 36 national champions.
When USA Cycling announced it would put the 2012 CX championship races near Madison, the peloton was filled with talk of brutal cold and snow. Instead, mud has been the main weather-related challenge for the 1,000 riders tackling the hills and tight corners.
One twitter comment noted that the course was slick and the floors of the portables was worse.
Late Friday, the race promoters from Team Sports Inc., negotiated to have the Verona fire department fill the power washer tanks in the pit area, where racers clean and swap bikes mid-race.
"I think everyone was banking on snow," said Kelli Lusk, USA Cycling's national events director. "It was a complete sheet of ice on Monday."
When the mud showed up on Wednesday it brought in anxiety for both the promoter and team managers.
"They have a fire truck coming in to provide water for each day of racing," said Lusk. "We're aware of the situation, the race organizers are addressing it. I did talk to the race organizer about getting a couple more power washers in there, too."
Osborne was among the riders who conquered the difficult conditions, and she led the way for a strong group of area juniors making their way onto the podium.
Andrew Schmidt, of Lake Geneva, won the male 10-12 group.
Skylar Schneider, of West Allis, raced to second in the junior 13-14 division; Diane Ostenso, of Cottage Grove, also took second in the women's 55-59 group; and Ian Haupt, of Whitefish Bay, was third in the 15-16 division.
On Thursday, Julie O'Neill, of Milwaukee, took the national title in the women 65-69 group; Greg Pausch, of Chippeway Falls, took second in the masters 60-64 group; Antonia Leal, of Waukesha, was second in the 45-59 race; and Robert Downs, of Madison, also took silver in the men's 55-59 group.