Our Pick: Lars Boom
Winner: Lars Boom
Notes: Lars Boom dominated his final race of the season, beating Thijs van Amerongen by 22 seconds. Niels Wubben rounded out the podium rolling across the line 44 seconds after Boom. The oldest man in cross, Gerben de Knegt continued to struggle, finishing sixth. With Boom out, van Amerongen, de Knegt and Thijs Al (5th place) should have all secured their spots for worlds. The odds are Wubben and Twan van den Brand (4th) will also make the squad.
Our Pick: Zdenek Stybar
Winner: Zdenek Stybar
Notes: Radomir Simunek delivered as best as he could on his promise to fight as hard as he could to beat Styby. He finished second, 1:36 back. Karel Hnik rolled across the line in third for his best result of the season. The Toi Toi Cup offered double points in Unicov and came right down to the final few laps, where Vladimir Kyzivat got away from Petr Dlask. As a result, Kyzivat won the Toi Toi Cup by 2 points. David Kasek finished third overall, while season-long leader Christoph Pfingsten fell to fourth since he couldnâ€™t participate in Unicov.
Our Pick: Francis Mourey
Winner: Aurelien Duval
Notes: Francis Mourey finished third, behind Steve Chainel, losing the title heâ€™s held since 2006. The race saw a lead group as large as 20 widdled itself down to just five men in the final half lap. The final corner was very close to the finish line (150m in my opinion) and Duval came through it first and held on for the win. It also provided us with a chance to figure out why he had scantly clad women on his jersey. Turns out the UV Aube team is sponsored by Charlottâ€™s lingerie.
Our Pick: Kenneth Hansen
The Winner: Kenneth Hansen
Notes: Kenneth Hansen won in front of a hometown crowd to retain the Danish national title on Sunday. Hansen beat Jonas Pederson and Tommy Nielsen. The most interesting aspect of this race was the age of the riders. The 21 person field had only three riders between the ages of 23 and 35. The rest of the field was evenly split between those 23 and younger and 35 and older. With that said, three of the top five were under the age of 22, proving that the youth are beginning to take over.
Our Pick: Sven Nys
Winner: Sven Nys
Notes: Sven Nys dominated Sundayâ€™s race on a muddy course in Belgium. After a terrbile start that saw him sitting in last place, he went to the front, bridged to runner-up Niels Albert and simply rode away two laps into the race. Rob Peeters finished third, a finish that most likely will reserve him a spot on the worlds team. Kevin Pauwels finished tenth, over four minutes behind Nys.
The big story was Bart Wellens who was rushed to the hospital Saturday night. Wellens exact condition isnâ€™t clear, but his body began to shut down as a result of a very high fever. He is apparently going to be okay, but the lack of details about what exactly happened still leave us wondering how he is. He’s had some health issues in the past – notably a bout of mononucleosis in 2009 that significantly interrupted his cyclocross performance – so we hope this issue isn’t too serious.
Finally, the Sven Nys conspiracy has become full blown after a decision to remove the hardest part of the course was made late Saturday. While the mud still made for a tough course, Nys was upset with the promoters who made a last minute decision to remove an uphill section that favored him. While the odds are that this is not the case, promoters have removed barriers and other obstacles in the past to curve the Belgians dominance. As he said, hopefully the donâ€™t remove the sand sections from Worlds.
Our Pick: Jeremy Powers
Winner: Jeremy Powers
Notes: For the first time in years, all the key players played a role in the national championships, making it a spectacular race. Conditions were about as good as they could possibly be in Madison, Wisconsin – considering that many racers had been anticipating heavy snow and single-digit temps for Nationals, temperatures in the 30s were a welcome respite, especially after a week of racers watching the ground freeze, thaw, mud over, and freeze again.