This weekend, all eyes will be on France as the World Cup returns to Roubaix for round four on Sunday. The course winds its way in and around the world famous velodrome that hosts the finish of Paris-Roubaix every spring. In addition, Europe plays hosts to three UCI C2 races, all of which take place on Sunday. This means that those races will be filled with local talent and a handful of riders who did not make the trip to Roubaix. Hereâ€™s how things should play out:
National Trophy Series – Round 4 (C2)
Floris de Tier – a young, under-23 Belgian, de Tier actually led this race last year before crashing hard. Last yearâ€™s race was won by Thijs Al, who along with a small contingent of foreign riders could make the trip. Iâ€™m sticking with de Tier if those heavy hitters donâ€™t show up.
Paul Oldham – a perennial favorite for the overall, Oldham has been up and down a bit through the first three rounds, yet he maintains a six-point advantage over Oli Beckingsale. A runner-up last year, look for Oldham to land on the podium again in South Shields.
Oli Beckingsale – Beckingsale is struggling a bit with keeping top form after a long mountain bike season. He remains a podium threat and needs to keep Oldham in his sights if he wants a shot at the overall. I expect him to podium on Sunday.
Day of Cyclocross (C2)
Elia Silvestre – much like de Tier in England, Silvestre should lead a slew of international riders into Ternitz, Austria for the Day of Cyclocross. Despite only being 23, look for the Italian to make a bid for victory on Sunday.
David Kasek – Kasek has had an up and down season in the Toi Toi Cup in his native Czech Republic. I usually pick him to podium and will continue with the trend this week, despite him letting me down over the past couple weeks.
Martin Haring – one of Slovakia’s top riders, look for Haring to make a bid for the podium on Sunday. Itâ€™s tough to think that the podium will not feature a single Austrian rider, but iâ€™m going to stick with my guns.
XIX Bryksy Cross (C2)
Marek Konwa – look for this Polish native to repeat on Sunday in Gosciecin, Poland. Despite his young age (23), Konwa dominated this race last year and I expect him to do the same this time around.
Lubomir Petrus – the runner up last year, look for the 23-year-old Czech rider to make a bid for victory on Sunday. With no start list available, Iâ€™m guessing that he will head to Poland versus Austria. If he does, look for him to land on the podium.
Zdenek Mlynar – at 37-years-old, Mlynar is winding down his cross career. With that said, look for the Czech to land on the podium on Sunday.
World Cup – Round 4 (CDM)
Sven Nys – in 2010 (the last time the World Cup visited Roubaix), Nys finished third behind Klaas Vantornout and Zdenk Stybar. Nys is on a roll this year and once again has a chance at the â€œtriple crownâ€ (World Cup, Superprestige and Bpost bank Trofee). A win on Sunday would cement him in the lead of the World Cup series.
Klaas Vantornout – the consummate teammate to Kevin Pauwels, Vantornout is clearly riding better than last yearâ€™s World Cup winner. Despite edging out Nys last weekend, I still think heâ€™s not on the same level as the Belgian National Champion. Itâ€™s supposed to be dry on Sunday, so Vantornout will have to keep pace with Nys if he wants a shot at victory. Look for him to podium on Sunday.
Niels Albert – with the dry conditions and fast course (assuming our weatherman is right), itâ€™s hard for me to pick another podium contender. Lars van der Haar has cooled off a bit, but seems to do well on dry coursers. Albert is in a similar boat, wet or dry, the World Champion has struggled a bit as of late. Then thereâ€™s Francis Mourey, who will be riding on home soil. With that said, look for Albert to be the â€œbest of the restâ€ this weekend in Roubaix.