A big weekend and some shaking-up to the rankings, as Niels Albert has abandoned the field to recover from a broken wrist and Kevin Pauwels solidified his place on the top of the heap – so let’s take a look at the top ten on the European Circuit:
1. Kevin Pauwels (1) – A two-win weekend, and the Belgian is looking increasingly difficult to beat. He builds a big lead in the GVA Trophy, and pulls himself to within striking distance in the Superprestige. Combined with his lead in the World Cup, Pauwels is firmly and formidably on top.
2. Zdenek Stybar (2) – If anybody can beat Pauwels it’ll be the great Czech hope, who’s charged to a victory of his own in recent weeks and is steadily the best of the rest. He was a bike throw away from victory on Saturday.
3. Sven Nys (3) – The Big Four we mentioned last week is without Niels Albert, and of the remaining three, Nys is the one who’s most likely to vacate the podium – and he did, last Sunday in Gavere. We can’t help but wonder if his form is slipping – but that’s probably an unnecessary rush to judgement of a rider who’s got a nice pocketfull of wins this season.
4. Tom Meeusen (7) – With a 4th place and a 2nd place in this weekend’s racing, it’s looking like Meeusen is the one who will fill out the podium with Niels gone and Nys occasionally faltering.
5. Bart Aernouts (6) – if Meeusen slips, though, Aernouts will be close behind. He’s showed great consistency this season.
6. Klaas Vantornout (10) – we called his form to be sinking last week but he showed us wrong, racking up a pair of 6th place finishes. The big man’s not done talking.
7. Francis Mourey (5) – Francis Mourey is, like, France’s answer to Captain America – clad in the skintight flag of his country, defending his homeland. He’s been on a rampage, raking in French wins, but his true test of form comes at the World Cup. He’s regularly finished in 4th place. Is that where he’ll finish this weekend? The sand at Koksijde might add a new variable.
8. Radomir Simunek (8) – A broken fork from a failed bunny hop may have ruined his race in Hasselt, but Simu brought his game to Gavere and finished 8t place. If Mourey is Mister 4th Place, then Simu is Mister 8th place.
9. Dieter Vanthorenhout (nr) – Dieter comes back onto the Power Rankings with a very impressive 5th place at Hasselt – a surprise to see him finish so highly considering his season is usually made up of sorties into the top ten.
10. Bart Wellens (9) – Coming back from respite due to a virus, Bartje’s still searching for enough form to be as successful in Europe as he was in North America early this fall.
Dropped this week: Niels Albert, who was hit by a car while training. His wrist is in a cast and his return to the sport will take a number of weeks.