Following Tuesday’s Koppenbergcross – the first round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee (GVA) – we’re taking a look at the top ten cyclocrossers in the world. For a bit of additional context, we’ve added each rider’s ranking from last week in parenthesis, and we’ve noted who has dropped off the list and why.
1. Kevin Pauwels (1) – Simply put, K-Pau is looking like the most dominant cyclocross racer in Europe. After an inconsistent start to the season, he’s put together an impressive run of recent results – 2nd at Plzen, 1st in Tabor, 3rd at Zonhoven, and 1st at Koppenbergcross. More so than his win tally is his consistency. It’s hard to see him finishing of the podium, but fear not – it’s hard to see anybody soundly beating him right now.
2. Sven Nys (3) – a flat tire caused Nys to lose Koppenbergcross for only the third time in eleven years. However, a pair of second place finishes this weekend leave him firmly in second place. Nys hasn’t lost a step – he remains a force to be reckoned with.
3. Zdenek Stybar (2) – Stybar’s looking for his mojo and his first big win of the season. He’s certainly come out swinging, able to ride with an on-form duo of Pauwels and Nys, even putting in some withering attacks in recent races, but he remains a step behind. Add to that, he’s made a few mistakes. A bobble in the sandpit at Zonhoven let Albert ride away.
4. Niels Albert (7) – Sure, Albert’s Zonhoven win a lovely ride. Simply put, nobody else was able to ride a difficult, sandy course perfectly. Albert did. But we get the sense he’s his own worst enemy. He can ride fast when there’s nobody in front of him, but when he’s in a group, he’s remarkably inconsistent. Unlike other major cyclocrossers, he doesn’t try to win them all – it leads to his rising and falling results.
5. Klaas Vantornout (4) – Belgium’s tall man has been riding strongly lately – lurking behind the leaders and scoring a podium at the World Cup race in Tabor. He’s a powerful rider and a strong finisher – likely to continue reeling in big results.
6. Bart Aernouts (8) – after taking a tough tumble in Zonhoven and landing on Tom Meeusen’s bike, Aernouts rebounded for a top ten and then pulled together a 4th place finish in Oudenaarde. He’s had some good results lately – if his form keeps improving he’ll land a major podium soon.
7. Tom Meeusen (6) – another lurker in the top ten, riding strongly. Unlike a handful of others, Meeusen’s shown an ability to rise to form enough to pull in a series of big wins. While we may hope and look for the form of others to increase, with Meeusen, we expect it.
8. Radomir Simunek (9) – Simu’s been capably supporting his teammate Albert and riding to his own respectable places of late. Now, Simu’s shown himself to be capable of riding in to podium form – he was on a tear last December before breaking his collarbone – so I think it’s safe to say he’s not bumping up on the ceiling.
9. Bart Wellens (10) – After an aggressive early bit to his season, Bartje’s just not where he wants to be. Perhaps a rest is in order so that he can come back swinging for the fences.
10. Vincent Baestaens (nr) – Nys’s teammate has put together a weekend of thoroughly respectable top ten results.
Dropped this week: Francis Mourey (5), for staying in France.