Spain (966 pts.)
Out of all the national championships, the Spanish one could be the least predictable. One of the problems is that their national series has been dominated by foreigners, who have clearly shaped the races differently then if it were a strictly Spanish race. Javier Ibanez is the defending champion and has had a solid season thus far. However, he has failed to win a race and his international results are a bit disappointing.
Egoitz Rekalde could be Ibanez’s biggest competition. Rekalde has won three races this season and finished in the top-20 at two World Cups. However, his last victory was over a month ago and at the Heusden-Zolder World Cup, he finished 47th. Last year’s runner up, Jose Ramos is another rider have a successful season, including a pair of victories in the past few weeks. However, neither Ibanez or Rekalde were in attendance at his most recent win. Two riders who can’t be counted out are Oscar Crespo and Isaac Fernandez. Then again, a wildcard could have great legs and rule the day in Burgos.
Italy (1,385 pts.)
After a victory last weekend in Rome, defending champion Marco Fontana is the heavy favorite going into this weekends race in Vadenza. However, his margin of victory was less then 10-seconds, leaving to door open to a number of competitors. Elia Silvestri, Fabio Ursi and Luca Damiani were all in the mix last weekend and have all graced the podium this season. If it comes down to a sprint, Damiani will have the advantage as he seems to have the best kick right now. Cristian Cominelli surprised everyone, except himself, last weekend in Rome with a strong second place finish. He’ll be looking for the upset this weekend. Finally, you cannot count out former champion Enrico Franzoi, who would love to wear his nations colors again.
Switzerland (1,614 pts.)
All eyes will be on six-time, and defending champion, Chrisitan Heule. Heule raced most of his final season in the US, before returning to Europe in December. His results have continued to improve and on Monday he won in Bussnang against an almost identical field to the one he’ll be facing this weekend in Beromunster.
Last year’s runner up Pirmin Lang has had minimal success this year and most likely will not be in contention this weekend. Last year’s third place finisher, Julien Taramarcaz will not be in attendance, leaving the door wide open for the likes of Lukas Fuckiger and Marcel Wildhaber. Both riders had strong starts to the season and have fizzled a bit. However, they could easily turn it on if they have the legs. Finally, there’s Simon Zahner, who has flown way under the radar this season. He finished four-seconds behind Heule on Monday and could be Heule’s biggest competition.
Germany (1,652 pts.)
Defending champion, Philipp Walsleben had a wildly successful season last year and was able to wear his nations colors at the World Championships in Germany. This year, after high expectations, he seemed to be off and didn’t show the great form he had last year. However, as the season has gone on, he has started to come around and had a few top-ten results during Holy Week. As a result he’s once again the favorite to win in Kleinmachnow.
Standing in Walsleben’s way will be 25-year-old Christoph Pfingsten, who has had a solid season thus far. He’s placed inside the top-20 at the most recent World Cups and has won four UCI C2 races, including three rounds of the Toi Toi Cup. 23-year-old Marcel Meisen should also be in the mix in Kleinmachnow. Meisen has stepped up to the elite ranks this year and has really shined. While he hasn’t had any breakout results, he’s ridden very consistently and could mix it up with the big boys.