International Cyclocross Weekend Preview: A World Champs Test Run, and more

Photo by Balint Hamvas | cyclephotos.co.uk

Cyclocross World Cup Round 3 – Koksijde (CDM)

The third round of the UCI World Cup heads to Koksijde, Belgium for its first round outside of the Czech Republic. Saturday’s race takes place in the North Sea coast on the grounds of the Koksijde Military Base. More importantly, Koksijde will play host to the 2012 World Championships in January.

After picking up a pair of victories last weekend, current UCI World Cup leader, Kevin Pauwels has to be considered the heavy favorite. The usual cast of characters will be there, with Sven Nys and Zdenk Stybar looking to stop the young Belgian’s momentum. Last year, Niels Albert dominated the race in Koksijde, but he will not be in attendance as he tries to heal his broken wrist.

Bart Wellens showed some good form last weekend, as did Bart Aernouts and a handful of others. Look for either Bart to try and get into the action early and pull off a mega upset. As always, Klass Vanthourenhout will be looking after Pauwels and could easily make a bid for victory if Pauwels falters – he’s shown an ability to perform quite well in World Cups. Meanwhile, young Tom Meeusen has been exhibiting rising form. The real surprise, and total wild card, could come from former World Champion Lars Boom, who will make his return to cross this weekend. While he’s listed as an alternate, if he starts, he could have a major impact on the race. He raced only a few cross races last year, too, but toed the starting line in great form each time.

Americans Jeremy Powers and Jonathan Page will be the lonely representatives for the US. Powers had a pair of top-fifteen finishes during the first two rounds of the World Cup and would love to finish right up there again – however, as Ryan Trebon pointed out, the sand in Koksijde requires a lot of experience in order to ride well. For him it will be a test ride and experience-builder before this winter’s World Championships at Koksijde. Meanwhile, Page is just searching for decent form and a good result.

Superprestige Gieten (C1)

The Superprestige series makes its annual trip to the Netherlands on Sunday. However, the chance of a home victory is nil with Gerben de Knegt and Thijs Al no longer riding at their best level. All eyes will be on Lars Boom, but the odds of the Dutch National Champion delivering the goods as he makes his return to cross is slim at best. Instead, it will be another Czech and Belgain affair as Kevin Pauwels, Sven Nys and Zdenek Stybar continue their battle. Stybar and Nys are currently tied for the overall, with Pauwels a mere five points back. Should Pauwels pick up the victory, it will truly be a three-way battle for the overall. Considering his form, it’s entirely possible that the weekend will end with Pauwels with the World Cup and GVA leads and in contention for the Superprestige: what a season for him thus far!

Kansai Cyclocross Nobeyama Kogen Round (C2)

Last weekend, Japanese Japanese National Champion Keiichi Tsujiura picked up the victory in a tight battle with Yu Takenouchi and 49-year-old Masanori Kosaka. Kosaka. All three riders will be capable of victory and should provide a great battle. American Molly Cameron continues her Japanese excursion, looking to improve on last weekend’s respectable seventh place finish.

National Trophy Seires – Derby (C2)

The battle between Paul Oldham and Jody Crawforth continues as the fourth round of the British Cycling National Trophy Cyclo-cross series visits the Moorways Stadium in Derby, which hosted the national championships back in January. The men’s race is packed with a strong international field led by Oldham and Crawforth, plus a band of high class Belgians, led by the winners of the last two rounds, Jelle Brackman and Floris De Tier. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the race is the return of former National Champion Roger Hammond, who will be looking to pull of a major upset in Derby.

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