After yesterday’s report, here are this week’s very Belgian-dominated International Cyclocross Power Rankings, with each racer’s ranking from last week in parenthesis.
1. Neils Albert (1). Albert is on a tear. His loss to Pauwels notwithstanding, he looks to be the strongest rider right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if his winning streak takes him all the way to the World Championship.
2. Zdenek Stybar (2). Stybar’s had an odd season – he got off to a strong start, being nearly unbeatable and winning five World Cup races before a training crash left him with a nagging injury that forced him to get plenty of rest this season. His absense from recent races makes him a formidable question mark – his rest and training might make the difference at the World Championships.
3. Kevin Pauwels (5). With his win in Pont-Chateau, Pauwels passed Nys for second place in the World Cup standings.
4. Francis Mourey (6). My money was on Mourey for 3rd place today until, until he had the poor luck to be behind the Fontana crash and endo’ed into a pile of suddently grumpy, horizontal, lycra-clad men tangled with expensive bikes. He can hold his own at the highest level.
5. Sven Nys (3). Nys seemed content to hang out toward the back of the large chase group at Pont-Chateau. Maybe his fatigue, more so than his power, was responsible for his 3rd place this weekend – it allowed him to clear the last lap crash. Still, he clawed up to Chainel and Aernouts and won the sprint for third, but I can’t help but think that Nys’s strongest weeks of the season are behind him.
6. Bart Wellens (4). His second place in the Belgian Championships suggests that he’s got a few cards up his sleeve. Maybe his recent injury will force him to take the rest he needs for a strong showing in two weeks.
7. Klaas Vantornout (7). I’m still waiting for a brilliant and surprising ride from Vantornout. He looked strong at Pont-Chateau, often at the front of the chase group, until the Fontana crash took him down. With two big races left in the season, he may have a chance to shine.
8. Bart Aernouts (n/a). He looked capable at Pont-Chateau, and will get an opportunity in Hoogherheide to show what he may be capable of at the World Championships.
9. Tom Meeusen (10). Meeusen won a race in Huijbergen this weekend, but I would have preferred to see him line up at the World Cup race. He’s had some exceptional results this year, taking on Nys at his peak, and it’s paid off with a berth on the Belgian team for Worlds.
10. Lars Boom (8). An Honorable Mention. Boom didn’t even race this weekend. He raced and won one World Cup race this year, and won the Dutch National Championships, all part of his training for the Spring Classics. That said, despite his absense, what his competitors said about his power during his win in Zolder a few weeks ago suggests that he could have ridden away with Pont-Chateau.
Thoughts on this week’s list? Share them below.