Cyclocross World Cup Round 5 Preview: Namur

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Namur, Belgium hosts the fifth round of the Word Cup this Sunday and is part of a series of firsts. This marks the first time Namur will host a World Cup round on its famous course. It’s also the first time a city in the Walloon region of Belgium has hosted a World Cup race. Finally, it will be the first time former Cyclocross World Champion, Lars Boom is in the starting grid this season.
 
The course, made famous by its proximity to the historical citadel features the same finishing stretch where Philippe Gilbert won the GP Wallonnie this year. The course in Namur features steep climbs, long run-ups on stairs, technical twisting and steep drops. It was a round of the GVA Trophy series last year and on that occasion Zdenk Stybar picked up the victory a head of Klass Vantournout. Kevin Pauwels was in the mix all day until he flatted out of the lead group.

Pauwels will look for some better luck this weekend as he hopes to defend his overall lead. Pauwels’ biggest competition should come from an on-form Sven Nys, who picked up a pair of UCI C1 races last weekend. Last year Nys suffered from the heat and was never really in contention for victory. However, this time around, the weather is cooler and course conditions are expected to be muddy and challenging. There’s even some snow in the forecast for Sunday. Those types of conditions could level the playing field for Nys and Vantornout.

As previously mentioned, Lars Boom makes his return to competitive cross this weekend and has an outside chance at victory. Despite riding for pleasure, and probably not taking many risks, Boom has to been thrown into the mix after his win in icy Zolder last year. Niels Albert continues his comeback from a broken wrist and has stated that he plans to go from the gun on Sunday. He also claims that he will probably run out of gas midway through.

With a break in the action before the US National Championships, Tim Johnson and Troy Wells are headed to Namur to start a European campaign. They will join Belgian-based Jonathan Page and Jeremy Durrin, who has been racing in Europe for several weeks now.

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