After two weeks in Belgium, I have returned to the US and so has UCI cross racing with a pair of C2 races known as the Chicago Cyclocross New Yearâ€™s Revolution. Held a week before nationals, the race has attracted a smaller, but stacked field as we get a fresh look at Americaâ€™s top riders before the showdown in Madison, WI. In Europe, all eyes shift to Italy where Niels Albert and Sven Nys will do battle with Europeâ€™s top riders at a World Cup round in Rome. Finally, in England, Derby hosts the sixth round of the National Trophy Series. Hereâ€™s how I think things will shape up:
Chicago Cyclocross New Yearâ€™s Revolution – Day 1 (C2)
Note: despite the pre reg list, it is my understanding that Jeremy Powers will only race on Saturday and Jonathan Page will only race on Sunday.
Jeremy Powers – despite a rough European campaign, Powers is still the top rider in the states. I expect him to rebound with a victory in Chicago en route to a potential national title repeat.
Ryan Trebon – Trebon has spent the past few weeks out West training for nationals and Worlds. Trebon did well in Chicago last year and could surprise everyone with a victory on Saturday. Iâ€™m giving the edge to Powers, but it should be a great battle.
Tim Johnson – Johnson has started to come into form over the past few weeks and I think his mini-European campaign has helped him hone that form. I expect him to be in the mix this weekend and land on the podium.
Chicago Cyclocross New Yearâ€™s Revolution – Day 2 (C2)
Jonathan Page – if you havenâ€™t been paying attention, Page is starting to show signs of the man that won three straight national titles. He was top-15 in Namur and finished inside the top-ten in Baal. I expect him to throw his hat into the ring on Sunday as he makes a push for another national title.
Ryan Trebon – as with Saturdayâ€™s race, I expect Trebon to be in the action on Sunday. With a few weeks off, and some decent training, itâ€™s hard to predict exactly how Trebon will do. I suspect heâ€™ll land on the podium.
Tim Johnson – I like Johnson to have a solid weekend before nationals. He should podium on Sunday.
National Trophy Series – Round 6 (C2)
Ian Field – I cannot confirm if Field will race or not, but he has been trying to return to racing as quick as possible after a shoulder injury. Assuming that heâ€™ll race, I like his odds to win. Heâ€™s been having a solid season and this forced rest period may be what he needs to breakthrough heading into nationals and worlds.
Tom van den Bosch – after spending the holidays in Belgium racing against the worldâ€™s best, look for van den Bosch to be in the mix on Sunday. Should Field falter, or not show, van den Bosch could be the victor. For now, I have him on the podium.
Oli Beckingsale – the battle for the overall comes down to this weekendâ€™s race and one simple fact: if Beckingsale finishes ahead of Paul Oldham he wins the overall. While I usual predict Oldham to better Beckingsale, I think the mountain biker has the edge right now and I predict him to land on the podium en route to the overall.
UCI World Cup – Round 7 (CDM)
Niels Albert – tied with Nys on points, Albert will make his bid for the overall in Rome. Albertâ€™s been riding really well right now and seems poised to rebound from a mid season slump. Albert has shown signs of weakness when things turn muddy, but I expect him to prevail in Rome, no matter what the conditions.
Sven Nys – after a forced break due to illness, I expect Nys to rebound in Rome. While I donâ€™t think heâ€™ll win, Nys could make things very interesting and should keep himself in the battle for the overall.
Kevin Pauwels – Pauwels has started to show signs of the man who dominated last season. Heâ€™s really come on form lately and in my opinion is a true podium threat once again. While I donâ€™t think heâ€™ll win on Sunday, I definitely think heâ€™ll land on the podium.