Last year, the action in Antwerpen, Belgium got started early, when a dog dug up a grenade from WWII in the sand that is prominent throughout the course. After a slight delay, Radomir Simunek picked up the victory, his second in Scheldecross. Other previous winners include Sven Nys (2009,2005), Thijs Al (2008) and Niels Albert (2006). With Zdenk Stybar skipping the race, the battle should come down to the Belgians Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys. Niels Albert is on the preliminary start list and if he shows, it will be interesting to see how his broken wrist is doing. Perhaps the most interesting rider to watch is U23 World Champion Lars Van der Haar, who has destroyed the U23 field this season. His first win came in an elite race at CrossVegas. Obviously, you cannot count out Simunek either.
Toi Toi Cup – Cologne (C2)
Christoph Pfingsten has dominated the Toi Toi Cup this season ratteling off three straight victories before the seires took a two-week break. With only a few rounds left, his 31 point lead over Vladimir Kyzivat seems solid. Pfingsten should solidify his lead with a top-three in Cologne and would love to make it four straight. Occasionally Zdenek Stybar shows up the theses races and although he not on the start list in Scheldecross, it would be suprising to see him in Cologne.
Vlaamse Druivenveldrit (C1)
Last year in Overijse, Belgium, the story was Lars Boom, who made his return to cross and was in the mix for victory until a flat tire took him out of the running. Just a head of Boom, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys battled it out for victory, with Nys coming out on top. The way the past few weeks have gone, it could be a Nys/Pauwels battle once again. Niels Albert will be in attendance, but the real challenge could come from Klass Vantornout, who finished third here last year. Zdenek Stybar should also be in the mix, but this most likely will be an all Belgian affair. Last year they took eight out of the top-ten spots.
National Trophy Series – Bradford (C2)
As has been the case all season, Paul Oldham and Jody Crawforth will renew their rivalry this weekend in Bradford. Oldham held the upper hand in the series until he rolled a tubular at the Derby round, where he finished behind Crawforth for the first time this season. His fifth place finish in Derby reduced his lead to four points. Last year’s muddy course seemed to favor Oldham who finished second behind Ian Field. However, Crawforth won his only senior title at Bradford in 2009.
The races themselves have been dominated by a strong contingent of Belgian riders. However, with no Belgians registered so far, it could easily become a battle between Oldham and Crawforth. Look for Liam Killeen to throw his hat in the ring, but will probably have little success against Crawforth and Oldham.
The French National Cyclocross Series – Round 3 (C2)
Besancon hosts the third round of France’s national series, where Francis Mourey should win his third straight round. Obviously in cross, anything can happen, so should Mourey not win, look for Matthieu Boulo to take the top step of the podium. Jon Gadret is always in the mix, but he is scheduled to race in Belgium.
Slovak National Championships (CN)
Apparently when Czechoslovakia split into two, all of the best cross racers ended up in the Czech Republic. Slovakia has a solid contingent of riders, who mostly race the Toi Toi Cup in the Czech Republic, but none have really risen to the prominence that their counterparts have. Slovokia’s best rider, and defending champion, is 24-year-old Robert Gavenda. He’s the highest ranking Slovak and won a race in Podbrezova earlier this year. He’s the heavy favorite to win, but could face some competition from 38-year-old Milan Barenyi.
Japanese National Championships (CN)
Japan usually only has two UCI races, a Kansai round and this event. This year however, Japan had two UCI C2 Kansai rounds. Keiichi Tsujiura and Yu Takenouchi took the top two spots in both races, with each rider picking up a win. As a result, they’re the heavy favorites on Sunday. Fortynine-year-old Masanori Kosaka had two top-five finishes in the UCI races and would love to pull off the major upset.