Cyclocross Weekend Preview – From Carolina to Asper-Gavere


2010 Neerpelt CX - S. Nijs Run-Up

Photo by Tim VanWichelen


Here’s a quick preview of this weekend’s cyclocross action:

With only one pair of UCI races this weekend, many of North America’s top riders are taking some time off. However, with the National Championships a mere month away, many are still trying to grab valuable UCI points. Therefore, the action at this weekend’s North Carolina GP should be very exciting as Jackson Park in Hendersonville hosts two UCI C2 races. The heavy favorite is North Carolina resident Davide Frattini. Frattini has already won four C2 races this year and continues to have a great season. Behind Frattini there are about a half-dozen riders who could contend for victory. Ryan Knapp and Mark LaLonde have finished on UCI podiums this year, so expect those two to be near the front.

With such a large contingent of local riders and most of the big names missing, this weekends predictions are merely an educated guess. So, here we go:

Saturday:

1. Davide Frattini

2. Mark LaLonde

3. Ryan Knapp

Sunday:

1. Davide Frattini

2. Mark LaLonde

3. Brian Matter

Internationally, Round Three of the GVA Trophy will be held in Hasselt, Belgium on Sunday. The UCI C2 race promises to be an all out brawl amongst Europe’s top crossers. Zdenek Stybar holds a slim lead in the overall and his recent results don’t bode well for the World Champion. The heavy favorite has to be Sven Nys who won this race twice (2005 and 2007). 2008-winner Bart Wellens has had an impressive few weeks and is a definite podium contender as well. Other riders to watch include Niels Albert, Klass Vantournout and Kevin Pauwels. Not to mention Rob Peeters, who is on the verge of a spot on the Belgian World Cup squad.

I really like Nys at this point and am convinced that he’s at a higher level than anyone else. The other two riders I really like are Albert and Vantornout. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw a surprise in the form of Bart Wellens. Here’s my podium:

1. Sven Nys

2. Niels Albert

3. Klaas Vantornout

On Sunday, all eyes will focus on Gavere, Belgium for round four of the Superprestige series. Last weekends race went to Sven Nys, who now has a one point lead over Zdenek Stybar. History is on Nys’ side; he has won this race six out of the nine times it has been held. The other two riders to watch in Gavere are Niels Albert and Bart Wellens (a two time winner)—both could take the victory. Klaas Vantornout pushed Nys to the limit last weekend and has to be a favorite for victory. Another rider to watch is American Jonathan Page. Page has had some great results lately and his form appears to be coming around.

The course in Gavere is one of the hardest in Europe, which means recovery from Saturday’s race is key. I really think Stybar will have a shot to prove him self in this race, but Nys’ desire for a 10th overall title is undeniable. I think he gets the job done and Stybar gets on the podium. However, I feel like there may be another rider who finishes between those two. Here’s my podium:

1. Sven Nys

2. Bart Aernouts

3. Zdenek Stybar

Finally, a little side note for US fans: National Champion Tim Johnson is in Europe for the next few weekends. Although he’s not showing-up on start lists yet, I’m sure he’s hitting the GVA and Superprestige races this weekend where he could surprise a few riders. While I don’t think he’ll win, I do think he could finish inside the top-10. Imagine: if Page and Johnson are on their games, there could be two Americans in the top-10 at a major international event. Incredible.

Have a great weekend—share your comments below.

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