Heading into the third round of the GVA Trophy, Kevin Pauwels holds a healthy ten-point lead of Zdenk Stybar and a 14-point lead over Sven Nys. Pauwels will head into Saturday’s race as a heavy favorite as he attempts to win his third straight GVA Trophy race and further separate himself from the competition. Pauwels won in Hasselt last year, but after stumbling a bit last weekend, he has left the door open for Stybar and Nys to strike.
Nys and Stybar split victories last weekend and as of late, seem to be the only riders capable of handling, and beating, Pauwels. It was a very tight battle last year in Hasselt (the top-10 were separated by less then 30-seconds) and if it comes down to a sprint, watch out for the crafty veteran Nys to be the only one capable of challenging the superior sprint of Pauwels.
Looking to pull off the upset could be Tom Meeusen who contniues to have a very solid season. Bart Aernouts could also provide the upset if he can hold on to the lead group. Finally, watch out for Radomir Simunek who finished fifth in last weekends Superprestige round. Simunek has found success at Hasselt in the past.
The French National Cyclocross Series Round 2 – Rodez (C2) – France’s National cross series continues in Rodez on Sunday. Francis Mourey has been unstoppable in his home nation this year and looks to continue that success. Steve Chainel and John Gadret will look to keep Mourey in check and pull of the upset. Matthieu Boulo could play into things as the young Frenchman continues to mix it up with the elites.
Kansai Cyclocross (C2) – One of only two UCI rated races in Japan, the other being the National Championships, this UCI C2 race brings out Japan’s best cross riders. Last year, Keiichi Tsujiura beat Masanori Kosaka in a two-up sprint finish. Hikaru Kosaka rolled across the line 1:30 later in thrid. Tsujiura, the current Japanese National Champion, has to be the heavy favorite to repeate. However, if 49-year-old Masanori Kosaka shows up, he could provide the upset.
Superprestige Gavere (C1)
With current overall leader Niels Albert out for several weeks after breaking his wrist in a training accident, the door is wide open for Sven Nys and Zdenk Stybar to pick up the victory in Gavere and take control of the overall. Nys holds every record possible when it comes to the Superprestige series and always seems to have an impact at its races. Last year Nys, Kevin Pauwels and Albert rode away from the rest of the field, with Nys picking up the victory. Nys could easily repeat this weekend, but will face heavy competition from Stybar and Pauwels.
With Albert recovering from the injury, it’ll be interesting to see if any of the chase group will be able to crack the podium stranglehold.