European cross kicks into high gear this weekend with four UCI races, including the first round of the Superprestige series in Ruddervoorde. Ruddervoorde is also the only C1 race this weekend. Last weekend was all about two men: Sven Nys and Martin Bina. Nys went two-for-two in Belgium, while Bina won the second round of the Toi Toi Cup and the first two rounds of the Slovakian Cross Cup. Will there winning streaks hold up? Time to found out what the predictor says:
Toi Toi Cup – Round 3 (C2)
Martin Bina – Bina went on a tear last weekend, going three-for-three in the Czech Republic and Slovokia. With Vladimir Kyzivat and Petr Dlask having a slow start to the season, Bina has had to deal with a young crop of Czech riders. Last weekend’s races were tight, but I expect Bina to continue his winning streak in Mlada Boleslav.
Michael Boros – this young, 21-year-old Czech rider, is a rider to watch. He’s landed on the podium a few times this year and looks poised for victory. Right now, Bina is just that little bit better, but Boros is good enough to land on the podium.
Ondrej Bambula – the 25-year-old Czech rider only competed in three UCI races last year. He won the Int. Radquerfeldein Lambach/Stadl-Paura and finished inside the top-50 at two rounds of the World Cup. Bambula has been a podium contender in the early part of this season and should land on it again on Saturday.
Superprestige Ruddervoorde (C1)
Niels Albert – I’m not going to lie, I really want to put Sven Nys down as the winner. He bested Albert twice last weekend and looked very good. However, the World Champion kept things close and looks primed for a victory. Albert won Ruddervoorde last year and I think he’ll do it again.
Sven Nys – Nys’ Superprestige stats are ridiculous. He’s won 11 overall titles, including a record five-straight. He’s going for his 12th this season and his third straight. He also has over 50 Superprestige victories to his credit. Nys looked good last weekend and knows the key to another title is to finish near the top. I expect him to podium on Sunday.
Klaas Vantornout – Vantornout tends to ride well in Ruddervoorde and appears to be on some decent form. Sure he finished outside the top-ten in Kalmthout, but he looked very good in Neerpelt. I think we’ll see the same man we saw in Neerpelt and he’ll finish on the podium once again.
Cyclocross International Podbrezova (C2)
Martin Bina – Bina won the first two rounds of the Slovak Cross Cup last weekend. I expect him to do the same for round three on Sunday. Despite being in Slovakia, the first two rounds were dominated by the Czech’s, of which Bina seems to be the strongest.
Zdenek Mlynar – Mlynar is another one of the elder statesman of cross who continues to ride well. The 37-year-old Czech rider finished on the podium twice last weekend and I would expect him to do the same in Podbrezova.
Robert Gavenda – the Slovakian National Champion spent last weekend just off the back of the lead group and out of the podium hunt. Someone needs to break up the Czech domination and Gavenda is my man.
Cyclocross International d’Aigle (C2)
Lukas Fluckiger – after starting out his season with a win in Baden, Fluckiger headed to the US where he continued his strong start to the season. With some riders heading to Belgium for the Superprestige race, Fluckiger should be able to capture another victory in Aigle.
Simon Zahner – Zahner could easily win on Sunday, but I think he’ll have to settle for a podium spot. He’s been on the podium nearly every week this season and should break that trend soon. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening this weekend.
Mathias Fluckiger – completing the Swiss sweep and the Fluckiger sandwich should be the younger of the Fluckiger boys, Mathias. Should Zahner or Lukas falter, Mathias could make a bid for victory. However, he doesn’t seem to have the same form off of mountain bike worlds that his brother has.