With the World Championship behind us, a handful of riders are going home to their spouses and dogs, but many are going to fight out a few last weeks while there remain races left in the GvA series and the Superprestige series. Going in to the wrap-up of those two series, here are this week’s Power Rankings, with each rider’s ranking from last week in parenthesis.
1. Zdenek Stybar (3) satisfied my questions about his form with a fine performance at the World Championship, his dominance only spoiled by the absence of…
2. Niels Albert (1), who suffered a flat tire early in the race and was unable to come back, ultimately finishing over 4 minutes down on Stybar. Make no mistake – considering his performance in January, he could sweep the remaining big races.
3. Sven Nys (4) is Mister Consistency, and though he complained of a flu around the Belgian National Championships in early January, his 2nd place at Worlds indicates that he bounced back and is ready to defend his lead in the GvA and Superprestige series.
4. Kevin Pauwels (2) has been a podium regular this past month and remains a threat to Nys’s lead in the GvA series.
5. Klaas Vantournout (5) might be credited with Pauwel’s 3rd place at worlds, perhaps answering some of the questions about Belgium’s ability to work together. Look for him to steadily finish in the top five. Is there a late-season win in his legs?
6. Francis Mourey (nr), the French Pocket Rocket. I had dropped him off the Top Ten last week due to some dismal performances after glimpses of brilliance. He had both in St-Wendel, falling off the pace of the chase group and then, in the final laps, clawing his way back up to Vantournout, Pauwels, Fontana, and Welsleben, and leaving three of them in his wake to finish fourth.
7. Philip Walsleben (nr) was a top-ten rider until he found a spark in his legs on his home turf in Germany. If he indeed peaked for Worlds in his native country, look for a few more strong finishes from him.
8. Marco Aurelio Fontana (nr), an Italian mountain biker with flair, has raced near the front of International races for a while. His 7th at Worlds was an impressive result.
9. Bart Wellens (9) took 2nd at the Belgian National Championships, which is enough to consider him a contendor for any subsequent race. However, he has yet to back up his performance at Nationals with a strong result since.
10. Christian Heule (n/a) was “the best of the rest” in St-Wendel, outkicking strong riders like Tom Meeusen, Gerben De Knegt, and Jon Page.
Dropped this week: Steve Chainel (8) and Gerben De Knegt (10), each of whom were thoroughly bested by their rivals at Worlds.