This weekend sees the North American cyclocross circuit begin to burst forth in earnest, while overseas, a bevy of C2 races means that the Europeans are still in preseason mode until the first major race of the season – a Superprestige race on October 9th.
In North America, the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross kicks off with two races in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The USGP is North America’s most prestigious series, and Jeremy Powers’ victory (won in the final race over his then-teammate Tim Johnson) is more a more impressive feather in his cap than a National Championship would have been. This year’s USGP winner will need to be consistently strong, with the strength and endurance to perform well over months of racing with two races on each racing weekend. This weekend, it’s hard to really imagine anybody being able to beat Jeremy Powers, who’s gotten his season off to a very strong start. However, with Tim Johnson having taken a little while off from racing to recover from a cold and, presumably, start to bring his form around, it will be interesting to see if their renewed rivalry can offer Ryan Trebon an opportunity to get away from the due that confounded him all last season.
In Europe, there are C2 races in the Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Belgium. The race in Stribo, in the Czech Republic, will see Zdenek Stybar’s season debut – in his hometown no less. A convincing win from him is probable. Meanwhile, look for the Dutch and Belgian talent to duke it out in Harderwijk and Neerpelt. The season is in its infancy, which can offer an interesting race dynamic. Some of the bigger names with firmly-identified goals later in the season will want to start off measured and paced so as not to fall victim to the January slump that can wreak havoc on a National Championship or World Championship aim. Meanwhile, the talent a level below the top will be racing hard to pick up some early season wins and valuable UCI points. If the hunt for points is confusing to you, fear not – we’ll publish a guide to the ins and outs (as well as overall importance) of chasing UCI points shortly.