Cyclocross National Championships Preview: Part 1

Photo by Tim Van Wichelen

This weekend, no less then 13 countries will crown their 2012 national champions. For the first time, the United States joins the list as they moved their championship weekend from December to January. While all eyes will be on Belgium, who have arguably the three best riders in the world this year, the best of the rest will return to their respective homelands to battle for the nations colors and an automatic bid to worlds. With a lot of races to discuss, we’ve decided to break them down based on UCI points by nation in reverse order. We will begin with Austria who’s currently 20th (out of 28 nations) with 211 points. On Friday, we will end our preview with Belgium, the clear number one with 6,164 points. Without further ado, here’s part one of our national championships preview:

Austria (211 pts.)

Defending champion Peter Presslauer is the heavy favorite as Austria crowns their national champion in Grafenbach this weekend. Presslauer is the higest rank Austrian thanks to his national title win last season (worth 100 UCI points). His only points this season came from the Int.Radquerfeldein Lambach/Stadl-Paura in early November where he finished seventh. Interestingly enough, he was the fourth placed Austrian on the day. As a result, Matthias Brandle, Karl Gollinger and 41-year-old Thomas Mair could all prove a formidable challenge.

Luxembourg (226pts.)

Last year Gutsy Bausch finished second behind Jean-Pierre Drucker in a great battle for Luxembourg’s title. With Drucker not racing this year, all eyes will be on Bausch who will be the heavy favorite for this weekends race in Kayl. Bausch has scored points in just two UCI races, rounds three and five of the World Cup, where he finished outside the top-50. Last weekend, the 32-year-old Bausch was the top placed rider from Luxembourg, finishing 15th. If anyone is to challenge Bausch, it will be 30-year-old Benn Wurth.

Denmark (345 pts.)

The 2012 Danish championships will be held in Haderslev, near Copenhagen. Riders will be familiar with the course as this is the fifth year a race has been held here. However, this is the first time it will be used for the national championships. The course is fast, but technical and is predominately grass and pavement. Defending champion, Kenneth Hansen, who is from Haderslev, will be the heavy favorite. Looking to stop Hansen will be Jonas Pedersen, Emil Arvid Olsen and four-time national champion, Joachim Parbo.

Great Britain (900 pts.)

It has been a two-man battle all season in Britain as Paul OIdham and Jody Crawforth. The two men have gone head-to-head almost every weekend, with Oldham coming out slightly a head, especially lately. Oldham’s best shot a victory will be a solo bid, which is what he used to win the title last year. Meanwhile, Crawforth would love to correct a season, in which he has admitted he’s a step behind Oldham. The real wildcard for this race will be Ian Field. On paper, Field is Britain’s best cross rider, with a solid season of European results under his belt. However, he has yet to medal in an elite national championship race. Perhaps this is the year he bucks that trend. Behind these three there’s a bevy of riders looking to take the top spot, including 47-year-old Roger Hammond, who’s an eight time national champion.

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