Cyclocross Weekend Preview: Louisville and Hamme-Zogge

Photo by Luc Claessen | http://www.ispaphoto.be

This weekend’s cyclocross action sees a host of action as riders on the North American circuit head to Louisville, Kentucky – site of this year’s Master’s World Championships and next year’s World Championships – for the latest two-race installment of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. Overseas, the Euro crowd visits Hamme-Zogge for a Superprestige race, after sparring at Jaarmarktcross earlier today.

USGP of Cyclocross Derby City Cup (C1/C2)

After last weekend’s three-day actionfest in Cincinatti and two-day speedfest in Northampton, the country’s best cyclocrossers converge to compete against each other with no competing UCI races on the continent. The USGP races will see deeper fields of more committed riders – no picking and choosing which days to ride, as we saw last weekend.

Considering the ways that they’ve been riding lately, Ryan Trebon and Jeremy Powers are likely to steal the show. And considering the fact that both have been eager for wins as their form has been developing, it’s likely to be a slugfest – the last USGP race saw the two of them going blow-for-blow pretty much from the gun, trading leads, eeking out seconds over each other before Powers finally clawed his way back to Trebon and pulled out a few seconds of his own to win the race. Expect these two riders to steal the spotlight. Betting on them splitting the weekend seems safe.

However, with a strong schedule over the past few weeks leading up to this race, a number of riders are on good form. Of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com three-headed monster of Tim Johnson, Christian Heule, and Jamey Driscoll, it’s Driscoll who looks the most prepared to give Powers and Trebon a decent run for their money – though Johnson has been steadily (if quietly) pulling his prowess together. Meanwhile, there are a number of strong and savvy riders who’ve had some exceptional results of late – including Zach McDonald, Tristan Schouten, and Ben Berden. Furthermore, East Coast Champion Justin Lindine is making the trip. We’ve got it on good authority that he’s gunning for a solid result at Nationals, and while that is a ways away, this weekend will be a good test of how he ride against the country’s top riders.

Superprestige Hamme-Zogge (C1)

Niels Albert heads into Sunday’s Superprestige race at Hamme-Zogge as the favorite to win. Albert leads the Superprestige series over Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout following his two wins in Ruddervoorde and Zonhoven. Considering that Albert’s season has been a bit up and down up to this point, with some disappointing performances in big races, he’s likely to do what it takes in order to hold on to his lead. A win in last weekend’s Grand Prix de la Region Wallonne shows that his form is there.

It won’t be easy. Kevin Pauwels seems eager to replace Sven Nys as Cyclocross’s resident cannibal, riding on ripping form that’s brought him a host of wins big and small this season. Nys, too, is clearly riding well, as his victory in this morning’s Jaarmarktcross would show. However, the weather forecast doesn’t offer the conditions that helped Nys to his 2010 victory at Hamme-Zogge, but considering his performance on the fast course at Jaarmarktcross , it may not be necessary.

These three Belgians will have a bunch of riders gunning for them. Foremost among them is Zdenek Stybar. Though he can podium at will and has rode impressively and aggressively, victories have eluded him this season. Will he strike out again this weekend, or will he break through? Finally, a number of riders have been gaining the form necessary to trade blows with the front of the field – foremost among them Tom Meeusen and Bart Aernouts. We’ll see what they can do.

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