After a one month break, round four of the GVA Trophy takes place in Essen, Belgium this Saturday. In the past nine years, only three riders have won this race: Sven Nys (5), Bart Wellens (3) and Niels Albert (1). After a pair of victories last weekend, the heavy favorite has to be last year’s winner Nys. Looking to challenge will be Kevin Pauwels, who has won the first three rounds of the series and has a commanding 12-point lead over Zdenk Stybar and a whopping 21-point lead over Nys. Stybar could figure in the mix, despite not showing much form over the past few weeks, since he took last weekend off from racing to rest and to train. An upset could come from Bart Aernouts or Tom Meeusen – both have been riding very well in recent weeks.
Cyclo-cross International Ciudad de Valencia (C2)
Up against the World Cup in Namur, this race in Valencia, Spain should see a strong Spanish contingent mixed with some international riders who were left off their Nations start lists. Spaniard José Antonio Hermida has had some solid success in Valencia, including a win in 2009. Last year, the race was dominated by Tom Van de Bosch, who could return for another shot at victory.
Internationale Centrumcross van Surhuisterveen (C2)
Tuesday’s race in Surhuisterveen, Netherlands usually features the best that the Netherlands has to offer, mixed with some lesser known European talent. Last years winner, Gerben de Knegt hasn’t come close to the form he had last year, but he could still figure into the mix. If Lars Boom shows up, he would be a clear favorite for victory, especially since he won the race in 2009. Another dutch star, Lars Van der Haar could also figure into the mix. After another weekend of hard racing, some Belgians could make the trip as the likes of Tom Peeters, Sven Nys and Thijs Al have raced here in the past.