If the cycling community didn't know who Jade Wilcoxson was before last Sunday, it certainly does now.
The local professional claimed second place in the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships on Sunday in Verona, Wis., helping her earn a spot on the United States team set to compete in next month's World Championships.
The 34-year-old, who lives in Talent, will race at the World Championships Feb. 2-3 in Louisville, Ky.
In the final lap on Sunday, Wilcoxson — once a fixture at Champion Raceway in White City — made a successful push to overtake Nicole Duke, take second and earn a starting spot at the Worlds.
Wilcoxson is a first-year road pro who had never before raced a full season of cyclocross. She had not even submitted her name to USA Cycling for Worlds consideration.
"I wasn't on the radar going into nationals because there are a lot of girls with more experience than me since this is my first year (as a pro)," Wilcoxson said. "After the second-place finish (the USA Cycling committee) put me on their radar and their committee decided I would fill one of the six spots on the team."
Katie Compton of Colorado Springs claimed first for her ninth straight cyclocross national championship. She finished in 43 minutes, 2 seconds, while Wilcoxson finished in 44:22.
The weather was terribly cold in Wisconsin, Wilcoxson said.
"The conditions were absolutely terrible," Wilcoxson said. "It was 15 degrees out. The day before it had been 40 degrees (and) it just made a heavy thick mud that sticks to your bike. It was virtually impossible to ride. The track got all chewed up and nasty and then it dropped down to 15 degrees with mud on top of ice."
Wilcoxson finished the season third in the National Racing Calendar rankings, just 13 points behind second-place Alison Powers. She was named the breakthrough rider of the year after succeeding in several important races.
Wilcoxson claimed an overall win at the Joe Martin Stage Race with a final-stage criterium victory in Alabama and captured triumphs at the Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge in Aspen, Colo., and Tour of Elk Grove near Chicago. She made the podium at Sunny King in Alabama and at the Grand Cycling Classic in Michigan and turned in a fourth overall showing at the SRAM Tour of the Gila in Silver City, N.M.
Leading up to nationals, Wilcoxson trained at a velodrome in Los Angeles.
In 2011, Wilcoxson rode with Flywheel Bicycle Solutions in Talent and worked as a physical therapist. She now races for the Optum Pro Cycling team.
"It's been a crazy year," Wilcoxson said. "It's an amazing lifestyle from anything I've ever done. Being on the road all the time, the life of a pro athlete is strange. It's incredible. The training and intensity and highs and lows, really having to focus and keep your body in the best shape possible."
Wilcoxson will fly to Louisville on Jan. 30. The other members of the USA elite Worlds team are Georgia Gould, Amy Dombroski, Meredith Miller, Kaitlin Antonneau and Compton.