After a mixed weekend for the predictor, it’s time to dive back in as the European-North American showdown that is CrossVegas takes Sin City by storm on Wednesday. Each year, the amount, and caliber, of foreign riders has increased and this year is no exception. There’s a bevy of talent crossing the pond including defending champion, Lars van der Haar (also the current U23 World Champion), Rob Peeters (third last year), Swiss National Champion Lukas Fluckinger and Junior World Champion Arnoud Jouffrey. In addition to the European talent, we will see our first showdown between US National Champion Jeremy Powers (4th last year), Ryan Trebon (5th last year) and Tim Johnson (7th last year). But enough about who’s going to be there, this is about who’s going to win.
Lars van der Haar – while you may think I’m taking the easy way out, this kid is legit. Despite still having a year left in the U23 ranks, van der Haar petitioned the UCI in February to race as an elite this year. Needless to say the two-time U23 World Champion got his wish and will be looking to make an early impact in his first official season as an elite. In my book, he’s one of the top-five riders in the world this year and after watching him in Vegas last year, there’s no one who can stop him.
Rob Peeters – the 27-year-old Belgian only won one race last year. However, he finished inside the top-ten in nearly every race he entered and ended up tenth in UCI points. He finished third last year in Vegas and should be able to move up a spot this year. Last year he looked destined for the top step of the posium until a small Dutch rider snuck past him with a spectacular kick. Unfortunately for Peeters, and the rest of the field, that small Dutch rider is back.
Ryan Trebon – “Tree farm” starts his season in Vegas and remains the only two-time winner of the event. Trebon technically already has a win under his belt this season and would love to reward his new Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld team with a victory. Unless Trebon can sneak away early, he’ll be out matched by the European riders, especially if it comes down to a sprint. That’s why I pick him for third.
There are literally half-a-dozen riders who could play spoiler on Wednesday and if last week was any indication, one of them will. However, my eyes are on one man: Jamey Driscoll. Driscoll won this race in 2009 and his only shot is to do it the same way he did then, solo. If Driscoll can get away from what will most likely be a large (six plus) lead group, he has a shot. I don’t think he can do it with all the talent in this field, but if anyone has a chance, he does.
Finally, I have a few news and notes for this week. I have finally come up with a points system to keep track of my predictions. Each race is worth five (5) points, three (3) points for the winner and one (1) point for each member of the podium. I’ll have an update with the points I’ve earned so far later this week. In addition, I had a long conversation with Jeremy Powers on Saturday and hope to have that interview posted this week. Last, but certainly not least we have a note from our error department. I said Ryan Knapp was from Ohio, he’s not, he’s from Indiana. That covers it for now. If you’re in Vegas this week, have fun. I’m skipping it this year in anticipation of some bigger trips later this season.