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 Year’s Revolution. Held a week before nationals, the race has attracted a smaller, but stacked field as we get a fresh look at America’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 Europe’s top riders at a World Cup round in Rome. Finally, in England, Derby hosts the sixth round of the National Trophy Series. Here’s how I think things will shape up:
Chicago Cyclocross New Year’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. I’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 Year’s Revolution – Day 2 (C2)
Jonathan Page – if you haven’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 Saturday’s race, I expect Trebon to be in the action on Sunday. With a few weeks off, and some decent training, it’s hard to predict exactly how Trebon will do. I suspect he’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 he’ll race, I like his odds to win. He’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 world’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 weekend’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. Albert’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 don’t think he’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. He’s really come on form lately and in my opinion is a true podium threat once again. While I don’t think he’ll win on Sunday, I definitely think he’ll land on the podium.