For the past two seasons, Valentin Scherz, a 20-year-old elite cyclocross racer from Switzerland, has come to the US to compete in races as part of the Philadelphia Cyclocross School program. This season he was captain of their 2010 Cyfac-Champion Systems p/b Revolution Wheelworks Team. In 2010, Scherz successfully defended his Mid Atlantic Cyclocross Series titles (Elite & U23), while also competing in other events including Cross Vegas, Gloucester, Providence, and a few rounds of the USGP, winning five races and standing on the elite podium 11 times.
Scherz has since returned to Switzerland and is now competing in World Cup and other major European events as preparation for the World Championships, where he hopes to improve upon his 23rd-place from last year. Valentin’s graciously agreed to check-in with us periodically throughout the rest of the season, sharing his experiences and insights with us all from the perspective of someone who has competed at the top level both domestically and abroad.
Since returning from the US, I’ve competed in a number of top races and World Cup events, so it is interesting to see who is on form. I’ve been asked to present my view of the favorites for the World Championships. With exception of the women’s race, it looks to be fairly open.
For the elite men I see Niels Albert (BEL) or Zdenek Stybar (CZE) winning. Albert just won the Belgian championships, which in a sense might be even more difficult than Worlds. With his month off due to injury, Stybar should be well-rested and in form to defend his title. I see it as a two-man fight, especially considering Sven Nys (BEL) has been ill, and Lars Boom (NED) will not be there to compete.
As challengers I see Kevin Pauwels (BEL) and Tom Meeusen (BEL); they are both fast with strong technical skills. Maybe Nys will be back soon and recovered—only time will tell. I am curious to see how Francis Mourey (FRA) performs, since he managed his season very differently by mostly staying home in France & Switzerland, and not competing much in Belgium or in the World Cup races. The others I have mentioned have podiumed at the World Cups, so I expect the Worlds podium to be reflective of this, without many outsiders.
For the U23 race, it is wide open. I expect to see especially Vincent Baestaens (BEL), Lars Van den Haar (NED), and a few other Belgians at the front. I hope that my friend and teammate Arnaud Grand will also be at the front, and improve upon his 4th place finish last year. He is capable, and as shown during the Swiss Championships, is very fit. But there are a lot of fast guys, and the race will be very nervous. Riders will take risks and anything can happen.
For the juniors, Lars Forster (SWI) is very strong; he is the reigning European Champion, and recently won a world cup. I see him winning.
As for the women’s race, it’s going to be a fight between Katie Compton (USA) and Marianne Vos (NED). I see Compton as the clear favorite to win as she has dominated most of the races this year.
That’s it for me–time to get some rest for the weekend!