Cyclocross Weekend Preview: Holy Week, Continued

Photo by Tim Van Wichelen

Fidea Cyclocross Leuven (C1)

The smaller, but exciting Fidea series continues in Friday in Leuven. Previous editions of this race have occured in Turven, including last year, where Niels Albert got the better of Sven Nys. The course in Leuven is said to be very technical and challenging, especially in the first half. After that it eases off a bit, but is still a hard course. All in all, the new venue in the college town of Leuven should provide some great action.

As we have seen over the past few weeks, the battle for victory usually comes down to three Belgians and a Czech. Niels Albert seems unstoppable if he can get a gap on the competition, while fellow Belgians Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels continue to dominate the bigger races. World Champion Zdenk Stybar is not schedule to start in Leuven, which should make it an all Belgian affair.

Looking to provide the upset are the usual cast of characters including Klass Vantornout, Bart Aernouts and a surprisingly strong Bart Wellens. Tom Meeusen continues to recover from an illness, but still could provide some fireworks. After all, Albert was sick this week and still pulled off an impressive victory. The always dangerous Lars Boom is set to toe the start line in Leuven.

Two names that may sound familiar are mountain bike stars Yaroslav Kulhavy and Florian Vogel. Kulhavy is the reigning World Champion and Vogel has accounted for 21 medals at the world championships and European championships Both riders will be in the start grid on Friday.

Memorial Romano Scotti (C2)

The second annual Memorial Romano Scotti takes place in Rome, Italy on Friday. The race is part of a two-day extravaganza that features three race circuits, over two hours of live coverage on RAI and 700+ athletes. The event concludes with the UCI C2 race on Friday. Despite being up against the Fidea race, a start studded, primarily Italian, field should provide some great action. Italian National Champion Marco Aurelio Fontana won his jersey on this course last year and shold prove to be the favorite in Rome. Looking to topple him will be fellow Italians Franzoi and Elia Silvestri.

GVA Trophy Round 6 – GP Sven Nys (C1)

The GVA Trophy continues this weekend with the GP Sven Nys in Baal on Sunday. Organized, in part, by the Sven Nys and his fan club, the race in his hometown continues for its 13th year. Only two riders not named Sven Nys have won this race: Mario de Clercq in 2002 and Lars Boom in 2006. Nys would love to take an eleventh victory on Sunday, making it six-straight.

Standing in Nys’ way will be Zdenk Stybar and Kevin Pauwels. After winning the first three rounds of the GVA Trophy, Pauwels has suffered from bad luck and as a result, he only leads Stybar by 12 points. Because the point differential is minute, Stybar will need to finish in the top three and about four spots a head of Pauwels to really close that gap. Regardless, the duo will surely be marking each other in Baal. This could leave the door open for someone to get away and in this case, that will most likely be Nys.

GP Hotel Threeland (C2)

The GP Hotel Threeland enters its sixth edition on Sunday in Pentange, Luxembourg. The race is up against the GP Sven Nys, but will still draw a strong field, primarily from France and the Czech Republic. Last year’s winner Francis Mourey will be the heavy favorite once again, but should face stiff competition from last year’s runner up and three-time winner John Gadret. Nicolas Bazin finished third in Pentange last year and would love to make it a sweep for the French once again.

Looking to stop the French will be Czech starts Petr Dlask and Vladimir Kyzivat, who have been batteling all season in the Toi Toi Cup. Luxembourg’s best hope is Gusty Bausch, who will be aiming for a top-ten finish. Noticeably absent is American Jonathan Page, who will be racing in Baal. Page has finished on the podium twice in Pentange.

Cyclocross Bussnang (C2)

With the National Championships less then a week away, and a heavy week of racing in the books, the odds are that most riders will opt out of traveling to Switzerland for this race on Monday. The fourth edition of the race in Bussnang should see a predominately Swiss field, as has been the case in the three previous editions of the race.

Last year, Frenchmen Francis Mourey spoiled the party and may be in Bussnang again. Swiss star Lukas Fluckiger had finished second all three times in Bussnang and would love to buck that trend with a win on Monday. Also in the hunt for victory should be Marcel Wildhaber, who has finished third here the past two years.

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