The Power Rankings for the 21st week of the European cyclocross season get shaken up a bit – riders coming off of World Championship peaks are slipping, opportunists are hunting some late-season results, and some are phoning it in, ready for the end of the season. With three races this past weekend, including two splitting the field on Sunday, things got quite a bit stirred up.
1. Kevin Pauwels (3) hasn’t slowed down since his 3rd place at the World Championships. If he continues his hot streak, this weekend’s final GvA Trofee race in Oostmalle will be exciting.
2. Sven Nys (2) hasn’t slowed down, either, having won twice since the World Championships; Mister Consistent is still riding at a high level. Is it enough to shake off Pauwels in Oostmalle?
3. Zdenek Stybar (1) can’t be counted out, and even if he hasn’t returned to his dominating ways (see, for example, his seven consecutive wins early in the season) it would be foolish to consider him anything but a constant threat.
4. Klaas Vantornout (5) finally got the win he’s been looking for, and at Pavé, we reward him with a bump up in the Power Rankings. Congrats, Klaas!
5. Philip Walsleben (8) has also taken advantage of the post-WC aimlessness to net an impressive second place behind Pauwels in Heerlen this weekend.
6. Bart Wellens (6) is a constant threat, as Pavé regularly reminds its audience of cyclocross coverage. One always wonders if he’s going to pull out a brilliant and powerful ride, especially if he teases with performances like his 2nd at Belgian Nationals. He looked good this weekend, netting third in Middelkerke.
7. Niels Albert (4) has slowed down, unlike some of his rivals. With the Belgian Championship and victory in the UCI World Cup series under his belt this year, can you blame him for phoning in a few weeks at the tail end of the season?
8. Tom Meeusen (7) may be replacing Klaas Vantornout as Mister Just Off The Podium. He’s had a strong break-out season with two major wins earlier in the winter, but his fourth place at Middelkerke is his best in a while. I’d hoped to see him surge and win another, but I think the strong part of his season is behind him.
9. Sven Vantorenhout (9) nailed a couple decent results, for another week running.
10. Gerben De Knegt (10) can be counted on for a top-ten ride. With one weekend left in the season, can we expect something better from him?
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Page, who picked up fourth place in Heerlen just seven seconds behind Pauwels, Walsleben, and Stybar. It would take some remarkable results indeed for him to get solid footing on the Power Rankings, but I’m sure he’s quite happy with this late-season performance.
Those are this week’s Power Rankings. Stay tuned for the final Weekend Preview of the 2010/2011 Cyclocross Season!