With ten race taking place over five days in Europe this extended weekend, UCI points will be up for grabs across the continent. The two big races are round two of the Superprestige in Zanhoven, Belgium and the first round of the GVA Trophy on, and around, the infamous Koppenberg climb. Both races are UCI C1 events, while the other races are all C2 races. Needless to say, those who are not racing in Zanhoven, or on the Koppenberg, will still have plenty of opportunities to pick up points. Because of the vast amount of races this weekend, we’ve broken down our European preview into two parts. Part one features all the C2 races, part two will discuss the showdowns that will take place in Belgium this weekend.
European C2 Races
Toi Toi Cup (10/28) - After hosting two spectacular rounds of the World Cup, the Czech domestic riders will have a chance to shine this Friday in Hlinsko. The fourth round of the Toi Toi Cup expects to be a great battle between the Czech’s best riders. Last year the race course was covered in snow as it played host to the National Championships in January. With a fall date this year, the course promises to be faster and considerably less muddy then last year.
While the battle amongst the Czechs should be exciting, Germany’s Christoph Pfingsten could play spoiler and pick up the victory. Petr Dlask should be the top Czech rider, if not the winner. Dlask is the current overall leader after dominating round three a few weeks ago. Last years overall winner, David Kasek, should also be in contention for the win. The surprise could come from mountain bike phenom, Jaroslav Kulhavy, who finished third here last year.
Lignières-en-Berry – 1st manche du Challenge La France Cycliste de Cyclo-cross (10/30) - France’s top riders head to the Lignières-en-Berry region of France for the first round of their national series on Sunday. The clear cut favorite is Francis Mourey, who simply dominated the competition last year in his native France. John Gadret and Nicolas Bazin will try to keep the National Champion in check. The real surprise could come from Matthew Boulo. Boulo has had a quiet, but successful start to the season and could break through any time soon.
XIX Cyclo-cross de Karrantza (10/30) - The Spanish will look to take back their control over their National races this weekend in Karrantza. Belgium has used the past three weekends to give their younger riders to experience some wamer weather and solid racing. As a result, Belgians have occupied the top spots of Spanish cross races during the month of October. With a bit of a reprieve, look for Javier Ibanez to take the top spot. David Riba and Mauro Fontant should also be in the mix for victory, with either rider capable of toppling Ibanez.
National Trophy Seires – Round 2 (10/30) - After a two-week hiatus, Britians National Trophy series continues in Leicester. Last year’s season-long battle between Jody Crawforth and Paul Oldham picked up right where it left off with Oldham getting the better of the two. However, it was the Dutchman Thijs Al who stole the show, outsprinting Oldham in final few hundred meters.
This weekend’s race should boil down to the afformentioned British duo, with the slight edge going to Crawforth. Both riders went head-to-head last weekend with Crawforth using his well-known kick to hold off Oldham. Oldham likes to get away early, like he did in round one, but if Crawforth can keep him in check, he should pick up the victory. Look for Lee Williams to round out the podium in Lecester.
Valdidentro Night & Day Giro d’Italia Ciclocross (10/30) - This two-day cyclocross festival of sorts takes place in Isolaccia, in Northern Italy. Near the Austria and Swiss borders, Isolaccia is in the heart of ski country and is well known for its cross country and biathlon races. The festival concludes with a UCI C2 race on Sunday. It should be a very Italian affair, especially with a C2 race in Switzerland that same day. Without an easily accessible start list, our guess is that Enrico Franzoi will pick up the victory. However, Faboi Ursi and Elia Silvestri have been riding well and could surprise the veteran.
Internationales Radquer Steinmaur (10/30) - Lukas Fluckiger looks to continue his winning streak in his native Swizterland as he heads to Steinmaur on Sunday. Last weekend, he bested an international field in Uster. Without the influx of international riders, look for 24-year-old Nico Brungger to challenge Fluckiger. Andreas Moser and Rene Lang should also play into the mix and could make their own bid for victory.
Cyclo-cross International de Marle (11/1) - A stacked field heads to Marle, France on Tuesday. Julian Absalon always puts on a great show when he races cross and this Sunday should be no exception. However, all eyes will be on French National Champion Francis Mourey, fresh off a pair of fourth place finishes at the first two rounds of the World Cup. Jon Gadret and Steve Chainel should finish in the mix with Chaniel having the edge. Look for Nicolas Bazin to play the upset card as he continues his season after a great start in the US.
Trofeo Ayuntamiento de Muskiz (11/1) - The Spanish contingent heads to northern Spain, for another exciting race in Muskiz. Positioned right along the coast, near San Sebastian, Muskiz provides a beatiful backdrop for this race. Rain over the weekend could turn this race into a mudfest on Tuesday. With the usual cast of characters in attendance, look for Javier Ibanez to go two-for-two this weekend.