As we head into the weekend, let’s take a look at the top ten riders on the International Cyclocross circuit, after the World Cup shake-up in Plzen, and prior to the World Cup race in Tabor.
1. Sven Nys - as they say, age before beauty. Nys used the cunning of deep cyclocross experience to make a late, savvy pass around Stybar to open a gap and claim a World Cup win.
2. Zdenek Stybar - in the closing laps of Plzen, Stybar took the race by the undercarriage, hoping to snap the elastic. It’s a far cry from his ability to dominate but it’s certainly a sign of much greater strength than he showed in Ruddervoorde a few weeks ago.
3. Klaas Vantornout - While Klaas’s 5th place performance at Plzen might not be the performance of a champion, one mustn’t overlook the steadiness he’s exhibited over the season thus far.
4. Kevin Pauwels - cyclocross’s most fearsome sprint looked capable and patient in Plzen, but when you’re riding against Sven Nys and Zdenek Stybar, they’re going to do everything they can while there’s breath in their lungs to prevent you from getting the opportunity to unleash your sprint. Pauwels has been inconsistent of late – a sign that while he can ride at a very high level, his form isn’t quite there just yet.
5. Francis Mourey - Mourey is looking like an inside-out Vantornout. Periodically, he unleashes a brilliant result. Case in point? Riding into fourth place at Plzen despite being held up at the start. However, he and Vantornout share a difficulty scratching through to earn wins in major races.
6. Neils Albert - if we could attribute Albert’s poor performance in Plzen to the videographer, than Francis Mourey wouldn’t be on the Power Rankings, because he wouldn’t have been able to ride himself into 4th place. Something else was up with Albert – mental or physical.
7. Bart Aernouts - Aernouts has been consistently in the top ten with occasional superior results.
8. Bart Wellens - Bartje slipped in Plzen with a poor result that was only partially due to a broken rear derailleur. He came to the United States early in the season to kick-start his win tally, but he’s still waiting for the second half of that equation to get in to gear.
9. Tom Meeusen - the young Belgian rode to a respectable result for the second week in a row. We saw last year that he’s capable of major wins against some of the sport’s biggest names. It’s a question of when, not if, he breaks through again this year.
10. Steve Chainel - Pulling down another top ten result is good enough for Chainel to remain on the Power Rankings for another week.