E3 Harelbeke – Three Riders to Watch

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Not much time today, but here are the three riders I see as having the best chances of keeping the defending E3 champ’s feet (and perhaps more importantly, hands) off the podium tomorrow.

Sep Vanmarcke (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)
If his performances in the Omloop and Strade Bianche are any indication, Vanmarcke is ready to dominate the cobbled Classics over the next three weekends. He raced Tirreno then skipped Milan-San Remo last weekend (which means he’s rested and healthy); and he spent his time wisely doing recon rides over key sections of the courses for Flanders and Roubaix (which should further boost his confidence). Some might say that Vanmarcke could try and save himself for Flanders and Roubaix–or mask his good form with a quiet showing tomorrow. But as Boonen and Cancellara have shown several times in the past, there’s no reason to hide good legs when you have them. With three top-5 finishes in the last four editions, he’s the top favorite for tomorrow.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Tomorrow is Thomas’s first cobbled Classic of the season, but don’t let that trick you into discounting his chances. One of the more consistent E3 contenders in recent history, the Welshman has finished 3rd and 4th in the last two years and clearly is at the top of his game following outstanding rides in Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. He’ll also benefit from a strong team containing Roubaix-hopeful Ian Stannard, former podium-finisher Bernhard Eisel, and the up-and-coming Luke Rowe. A win tomorrow would put Thomas near the top of the list of favorites for next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders–if he can hold onto his good form for that long.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Knowing that he wasn’t going to defeat the likes of John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, and Michael Matthews on the Via Roma in Sunday’s Milan-Sanremo, Van Avermaet did the only he could have done: he attacked. Unfortunately, Milan-San Remo isn’t a race that rewards such tactics anymore.
With so many favorites for tomorrow, Van Avermaet needs to play a bit of poker in the finale. If he needs a lesson, he can go back and watch how Cancellara handled himself in the final 10km of last year’s Ronde, a race which is coincidentally the best performance ever recorded by Van Avermaet in a Classic.

Other Riders to Watch: Niki Terpstra (EQS), Zdenek Stybar (EQS), Fabian Cancellara (TFR), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal), Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)

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Dwars door Vlaanderen – 5 Riders to Watch

Could Wednesday bring another EQS 1-2-3? (Photo Credit: Etixx - Quick-Step/Tim De Waele)

Could Wednesday bring another EQS 1-2-3? (Photo Credit: Etixx – Quick-Step/Tim De Waele)

And it begins…

The most wonderful time of the season is once again upon us, starting with tomorrow’s 70th running of Dwars door Vlaanderen. Dwars is a terrific race for many reasons, and it’s always worth watching if you have the time. Here are five riders I’ll be keeping an eye during tomorrow’s event, both for the win and as a predictor of bigger things to come.

Niki Terpstra (Etixx—Quick-Step)
Were I to choose a 5-Stone Favorite for Dwars this year, I’d look no further than the rider who has won two of the last three editions. After winning the Tour of Qatar in February (again), he rode well in the Omloop (again) despite failing to win the race (again).He then had a trouble-free Paris-Nice (a good thing) and skipped Milan-San Remo (probably a good thing) to stay closer to home and race Saturday’s Ronde van Zeeland where he gifted the win to his hard-working teammate, Iljo Keisse. But there will be no more gifts for his teammates, as Terpstra has a chance to ride for himself all the way through Roubaix. Expect him to start things off with another fine performance tomorrow—and if he doesn’t deliver it, look for it instead on Friday in the E3 Prijs.

Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Dwars is a race that often announces the arrival of a new cobbled Classics contender, and that’s exactly what everyone thought had happened in 2010 when Breschel won the race for Saxo Bank. But lieutenants don’t always make the best captains—especially in one day races as difficult as the Classics, and Breschel failed to deliver as Rabobank’s protected rider. He’s been back at Saxo since 2013 though, and the arrival of Peter Sagan is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to him. Now, no one’s counting on Breschel to score a big win this spring, which means he can race with little to lose. And his form has been terrific: he scored two top-10s in Paris-Nice and finished a respectable 12th in Milan-San Remo on Sunday. And before you go asking if the Dane has enough left in his legs to win one more important race before calling it a career, remember that he’s only 30-years-old.

Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol)
When Debusschere won the Belgian Road Race Championship last June, a lot of folks said, “Who?” And with good reason. The 25-year-old has certainly enjoyed a quiet start to his career, and has been overshadowed by other young Belgians like Sep Vanmarcke and Tim Wellens. But Debusschere is for real. In addition to his national championship victory, he won the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and the Tour de l’Eurométropole (formerly the Circuit Franco-Belge) in 2013 and the Sluitingprijs in both 2013 and 2014. And this year, he took Stage 2 at Tirreno, a result that might speak more for his talent than any of the others. Debusschere was also the most consistent rider of the Belgian opening weekend, which reflects his ability to succeed in both selective races and field sprints, thus making him the perfect rider for a race like Dwars. And without Jurgen Roelandts or Andre Greipel, he’ll be his team’s protected rider.

Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
The current leader of the UCI’s Europe Tour Ranking, Theuns reminds me of his former Topsport Vlaanderen teammate, Kenny Van Bilsen, who came into last year’s cobbled Classics wearing the white jersey thanks to a string of impressive results in the south of France and Spain earlier in the season. A rider who can handle himself both in a select group and when sprinting out of a larger peloton, Theuns has the perfect makeup for a race like Dwars. If there’s an important selection late in the race, he has the power to make it; and if it all comes back for a field sprint, he should be fine as well. If all goes according to plan, Theuns might be one or two high finishes away from scoring himself a better contract with a better team for 2016 and beyond. That could all start tomorrow.

Yves Lampaert (Etixx—Quick-Step)
Full disclosure: I’m developing a bit of a soft spot for this 23-year-old. First off, he’s an incredibly nice guy who’s willing to engage with media and fans on Twitter (like yours truly). But more importantly, he’s putting together quite an impressive resume in his first season with Etixx—Quick-Step. After taking 5th in Le Samyn, he followed it up with a stage win and the overall title at the 3-daagse van West Vlaanderen, a tough 3-day race that has produced several stars over the past few years (Degenkolb, Kwiatkowski, and Demare all have #3DWVL stage wins on their resumes). And in Zeeland on Saturday, he broke away late in the race with Theuns and took fourth—behind three of his teammates. After Terpstra, he might his team’s best card to play tomorrow.

Other Riders to Watch: Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (EQS), Lars Boom (AST), Stijn Devolder (TFR), Jempy Drucker (BMC), Tiesj Benoot (LTB), Jens Keukelaire (OGE), Dries Devenyns (IAM), Marco Marcato (WGG), Oscar Gatto (AND)

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your own riders to watch as comments below.

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2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Riders to Watch

Photo by brassyn via Flicker. Some rights restricted.

Photo by brassyn via Flicker. Some rights restricted.

One of the best races of the year is finally here. 200km, 11 hills, and 10 cobbled sectors–it’s Omloop time!

This year, instead of clogging your Twitter feeds, I’ve decided to post my previews in a familiar place. If you like what you read, you can follow me (@whityost) and the blog (@paveblog) on Twitter. Let’s get started:

5-Stone Favorite

Niki Terpstra (Etixx–Quick-Step) – By successfully defending his title at the Tour of Qatar earlier this month, Terpstra firmly planted himself at the top of the list of favorites for Saturday’s Omloop. The reigning Paris-Roubaix champ and last year’s third-place finisher here, Terpstra has all the qualities one looks for in an Omloop winner: great form, a strong team, and good knowledge of the course. Terpstra’s only problem might be that he’s too strong for his own good. He’ll be given no leeway by opposing teams, despite the presence of his teammate, Tom Boonen. In most years Boonen is enough to draw attention from other teams, thus freeing his supporting cast to ride for themselves. But Terpstra’s no longer just a lieutenant; he’s a co-captain who has proven that he’s able to handle the responsibility of being his team’s best chance to win. And he was left-off Quick-Step’s roster for Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. It’s been two years since a Belgian rider has won the Omloop and ten years since a Belgian team has won the nation’s opening race. Terpstra’s a good bet to end the latter streak, but not the former.

4-Stone Favorites

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) – All week long I had Van Avermaet right behind Terpstra as a 5-Stone favorite, but now that I’m actually writing this preview, I just can’t do it. Van Avermaet has progressed nicely as a cobbled contender despite the crowded roster often fielded by team BMC. But with first Alessandro Ballan and then Thor Hushovd out of the picture, the coast now looks clear for Van Avermaet to ascend to the top of BMC’s cobbled hierarchy. Or is it? With Philippe Gilbert back in the picture for the Omloop and the Tour of Flanders, Van Avermaet might once again have to share the team with a compatriot. After so many near-misses throughout his career, I suspect Van Avermaet is just a win away from unleashing his true potential. After finding so many ways to lose races, finally winning one is likely to give his confidence the boost it needs to make it a habit. The Omloop would be a terrific place to start, especially given his near-miss last year.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) – With three stage wins, there was seemingly nothing anyone could do to stop Katusha’s Kristoff at the Tour of Qatar. Indeed, the reigning Milan-San Remo champion looks to have hit top form quite early—almost too early in fact. For a pure field sprinter, being so strong so soon isn’t a bad thing as there’s a big difference between a 250-meter field sprint and a 250-kilometer spring Classic. But for a Classic’s contender, hitting your peak too early can spell doom for the races still to come. That said, we don’t know with certainty how close to 100% Kristoff is riding, and I suspect that he still has room to improve (which is bad news for the competition). If I’m his DS, I’m hoping for a small group to hit the line Saturday, with Kristoff fresh enough to continue his winning ways. It’s too bad the team will be without Luca Paolini. The 2013 Omloop-champ would have been an experienced lieutenant and a rider capable of covering late-race attacks on Kristoff’s behalf.

3-Stone Favorites

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) – If you’re looking for a wild card, look no further than the 2006 and 2008 Omloop champion. Gilbert’s realized that the new-look Tour of Flanders actually suits him better than the old one did, so he’s adjusted his program to take a stab at adding a third Monument to his resume. Gilbert hasn’t raced a cobbled Classic since 2013, when he finished anonymously in the E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem before taking a pass on the Tour of Flanders. That said, when he’s motivated, the cobbled Classics are generally no problem for him (with the exception of Paris-Roubaix)—as evidenced by his two Omloop wins and two third-place finishes in the (old) Tour of Flanders. His path to this year’s Omloop went through Dubai and Qatar before a pair of top-3 finishes at the 2-day Tour du Haut Var, a race that’s been a good indicator of Omloop/Kuurne form in the past. I suspect we’ll see one of two things from Gilbert tomorrow: he’ll either be in the thick of the action, or in the middle of the main field.

Zdenek Stybar (Etixx–Quick-Step) – Stybar hasn’t raced much this season, most likely because the team wants to ease him back into competition following an offseason injury. But he finished third in his first race, the Vuelta a Mucia, and rode impressively in the Volta ao Algarve. Stybar’s biggest asset is the depth of his team. With Terpstra the top favorite and Boonen a perpetually marked rider in races of this sort, Stybar might find himself with enough of a leash to escape late in the race—similar to what happened last year with Stannard, a rider who probably benefitted from the presence of a more heralded teammate, Edvald Boassen Hagen, in the final selection. If teams focus heavily on Terpstra and Boonen while leaving Stybar unaccounted for, it could spell the end of their chances to win this year’s Omloop.

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) – After his win in last year’s Omloop, Stannard looked ready to be one of the main protagonists of the 2014 Classics until a crash in Ghent-Wevelgem ended his spring prematurely. His program so far this year has been a mirror image of last year’s—right down to his fourth-place overall finish at the Tour of Qatar earlier this month. He’s clearly in form, but will now face the challenge of riding with dossard #1, a bullseye that means other teams won’t take him lightly anymore. His team is also notably weaker than last year’s. One has to wonder why the team left the in-form Gerraint Thomas at home. Yes, he wants to win Paris-Nice, but the Welshman has proven himself adept at racing in Flanders and would have been a top favorite were he racing the Omloop.

2-Stone Favorites

Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step) – I suspect we’re still one year away from seeing Boonen put more emphasis on winning the Omloop, for as long as likes his chances in the Ronde and Roubaix, the Omloop will always be less of a priority for the 34-year-old. For Boonen to win, a larger but select group needs to sprint for the win, but if that happens surely he won’t be the only rider of his sort to make the selection. He’s a better bet for 2016 and beyond—if there is one.

Sep Vanmarcke (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) – The reason why Boonen might soon start emphasizing the Omloop is the same reason why Vanmarcke is beginning to de-emphasize it: he has bigger goals in April. The last Belgian to win his nation’s opening race, Vanmarcke would certainly be Belgium’s best contender if he wanted to be. But after high finishes in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix the past two seasons, Vanmarcke is now confident in his status as a main contender in both cobbled Monuments and has designed his program around winning one or both of them. This shift comes at the cost of his chances in the Omloop, but if he wins Flanders and/or Roubaix, no one will care.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) – Third last year, the Omloop is a perfect race for this Norwegian to justify MTN-Qhubeka’s investment while proving right those who think Sky does a lackluster job of developing young talent. Last year, Boasson Hagen raced in Majorca and then the Ruta del Sol before heading to the Omloop, this year, he completed the Tours of Qatar and Oman along with many of Saturday’s other top contenders. With Gerald Ciolek and Tyler Farrar, he’ll have at least two experienced teammates to lean on (maybe), though Farrar might be looking ahead to Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) – Believe it or not, last year was only Demare’s first Omloop, a fact that makes his tenth-place finish all the more impressive. And he’s also still just 23 years-old, which means while it’s tempting to start tapping our feet while impatiently waiting for him to score a big result in the Classics, he still might need another year or two get used to the style of racing, and more importantly, learn the roads. He’ll need a select group to hit the line to make the podium tomorrow, but if that happens, don’t be surprised if he wins.

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) – We’ll give Chava a pass for his results during last year’s Classics. Moving to a new squad after getting accustomed to the culture at Quick-Step must have been tougher than many expected. But now he should be used to the way his new team does things and is hopefully ready to deliver the types of performances IAM envisioned when they signed him prior to 2014. His top-10 finish at the Ruta del Sol bodes well for his chances, as does the fact that his team is underrated but talented and experienced.

Dark Horses

Oscar Gatto (Androni Giocattoli) – Ladies and gentlemen, meet Luca Paolini 2.0. Gatto is a rider who makes teams pay when they don’t take him seriously—as he illustrated by winning Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2013. And while we’re talking about Italians, keep an eye on Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Marco Marcato. Just a hunch.

Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) – Each year, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise produces another young Belgian who reveals his talent with a series of strong rides in the cobbled Classics (Sep Vanmarcke, Kenneth Van Bilsen, Tom Van Asbroeck, and Yves Lampaert come to mind). This year, look for Theuns to be the next product of what has become one of the sport’s best squads in terms of developing young riders.

Prediction

Peter Van Petegem won two quick Omloops and then waited a few years before winning his third. I suspect we’ll see BMC’s Philippe Gilbert follow a similar pattern by winning his third Omloop tomorrow. While Greg Van Avermaet might be as strong as his teammate, Gilbert knows how to win races. Watch for Gilbert to launch an attack that comes late enough to stay away to the finish, but early enough that he can say he was trying to set-up the race for Van Avermaet. That might indeed be the case, but Zdenek Stybar and another dangerous rider or two (someone like Oscar Gatto) will join the move, giving it just enough firepower to go the distance.

Share your picks below. And if you like what you read, give us a follow at @whityost and @paveblog. Thanks for reading!

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Cross Predictions – Week 22

Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout battle it out in Louisville. Photo: Balint (http://cyclephotos.co.uk/).

Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout battle it out in Louisville. Photo: Balint (http://cyclephotos.co.uk/).

As the post worlds bourbon hangover wears off for most American cross fans, racing continues for a few more weeks across the pond. This past Wednesday saw four-time World Champion Bart Wellens pick up a victory ahead of newly crowned World Champion Sven Nys. On Saturday, the European contingent will head to Lille for Krawatencross which also acts as the sixth round of the Bpost Bank Trofee. The Superprestige series continues on Sunday in Hoogstraten.

Last year, both races were won by Tom Meeusen, who is still suspended due to his relationship with a doctor who is under investigation for doping. The Bpost Bank Trofee is all but over as Niels Albert has a commanding, 3:53 lead with three rounds to go. The maximum time a rider can lose in a single race is five minutes, meaning if Albert can put another minute into Kevin Pauwels (currently second), he could actually DNF a race and still win. Klaas Vantornout is third overall, over six minutes behind Albert.

The Superprestige series is a much tighter affair with the top three separated by less than 10 points. Nys leads the overall as he attempts to capture his third straight title and the 12th of his career. With two rounds remaining, Nys leads Albert by five points, while Pauwels sits three points behind Albert in third.

Here’s how I think things will shape up this weekend:

Krawatencross – Bpost Bank Trofee #6 (C1)

The Winner

Kevin Pauwels – after suffering from a dropped/jammed chain at Worlds, Pauwels quickly dropped out of the lead group and was unable to recover finishing a disappointing 12th. Pauwels won here in 2011 and I like his odds of another victory. Albert and Nys are on form as is Wellens, which means it will be a tough race. Since 1999, one of the aforementioned riders has won this race except in 2003 (Arne Daelmans) and last year (Meeusen).

The Podium

Sven Nys – the newly crowned World Champion would love to finish this season in the same dominating fashion he started the season. Wednesday’s race was an anomaly as Nys was suffering from jet lag and partying. While he could win on Saturday, I expect him the land on the podium, just shy of the top step.

Niels Albert – after a disastrous showing at worlds, Albert rebounded with a third place finish on Wednesday. Look for the former champ to keep the pressure on as he begins to wrap up the overall. He can afford to lose a bit of time, but since this series is based on time, he’ll have to keep things somewhat in check. Look for him to podium in Lille.

Superprestige Hoogstraten (C1)

The Winner

Sven Nys – as with most races, Nys is a multi-time winner in Hoogstraten. Since his first victory in 2000, he has won this race six times. Nys has well over 50 Superprestige victories and should use this race to cement his 12th overall title. It should be a good battle, but I expect Nys to reign supreme on Sunday.

The Podium

Klaas Vantornout – after coming up just short of the Belgian/World title double, look for the Belgian champ to challenge Nys like he did in Louisville. In the end, I’m giving the edge to Nys, but if Vantornout can triumph in Hoogstraten, it will become a three-way battle for the overall heading into the final round.

Niels Albert – Albert needs to win, or beat Nys by at least two spots to close the gap in the overall. While I think Albert will rebound from his poor showing in Louisville, I feel like everything is in Nys’ favor right now. Look for Albert to podium on Sunday after making a few bids for a solo victory.

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2013 Cyclocross World Championships Preview – Elite Men

When the dust settles on Sunday afternoon, the cyclocross community will have a new World Champion. Since 1950, the best cross riders in the world have gathered to race for the coveted rainbow stripes. This Sunday, 46 riders from 19 countries will line up in Louisville for their shot at a title. Over the past 15 years, this day has been dominated by the Belgians. They have won 11 titles in that time span, and last year the team swept the top seven spots, something that stills boggles the mind. This year is the first time ever that worlds are being held outside of Europe. Will the Belgian domination continue? Will we see a major upset/surprise? Here’s who to watch out for:

2012-cyclocross-bpost-trofee-azencross-78-julien-taramarcaz-crash

Niels Albert (BEL) – the defending World Champion came to the US directly from the Netherlands two weeks ago. His first race on US soil netted him a victory and helped cement him as a favorite for a repeat in Louisville. The first half of his season saw Albert struggle to win, and sometimes podium. Since mid-December, Albert has become a real threat and is often the man to beat. If his win in Cincinnati is a sign, Albert could be wearing the rainbow jersey for another year.

Sven Nys (BEL) – the “Cannibal from Baal,” is the greatest cyclocross rider of the past decade, and perhaps, the greatest ever. Nys has won everything there is to win in the sport of cross and has won them multiple times. In fact, he’s probably won more races than many riders have actually raced. However, when you look at his palmares (it’s going to take a while), you’ll notice one thing; he’s only won one World Championship. Nys started out his season in true Nys fashion, crushing the competition week in and week out. After suffering from bronchitis in late December, Nys has struggled a bit. If he can find that mid-season form, he’ll be unstoppable on Sunday.

Lars van der Haar (NED) – after winning a second straight U23 title, van der “Go Haarder” petitioned the UCI to allow him to race with the elites this year. While he hasn’t been able to pull off the big victory, he’s always in the mix and is a constant podium threat. If he can use his incredibly fast start to get a head of the Belgians, and hang on to their attacks, he could find himself in a position to win. Van der Haar has the fastest sprint in the field, so if he comes into the final lap with the leaders, look for him to unleash hell in the final few hundred meters.

Kevin Pauwels (BEL) – Pauwels has an opportunity to make history on Sunday. Pauwels has won a junior and U23 world title and would be the first rider to win one in all three categories. After winning the first World Cup, Pauwels seemed to lose form and struggled to podium. However, during “Holy Week,” he turned things around, winning a World Cup round and several other races. Since then, he’s won a few more World Cups and looks poised to make a bid for victory on Sunday.

JP (USA) – the two JPs (Jonathan Page and Jeremy Powers) will be looking to pull of the upset on Sunday. Page knows what it is like and what it takes to podium at Worlds (he finished second in 2007). Page’s season started out slow, but he has turned it on lately, including winning a fourth national championship a few weeks ago. If he can keep that form, combined with some good luck, we could see a 2007 repeat.

Powers’ season has been the opposite of Page’s. He started out incredibly well with multiple victories and a top ten at the first World Cup. Since then, his season has tailed off a bit and he hasn’t seen the front end of a race in while. However, if last weekend’s third place (behind Albert and Wieste Bosmans) is any sign, Powers could have refound his form just in time.

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2013 Cyclocross World Championships Preview – Elite Women

Despite having the smallest field of the weekend, the Elite Women’s race is a who’s-who of cross. The cost of traveling to and from Europe has caused issues for several nations, who decided not to send the maximum riders allowed, or none at all. It should come as no surprise that the United States and Canada will field the maximum of five riders. The US get’s an extra spot for Katie Compton since she is the World Cup winner, meaning that a total of six riders will represent the US on home soil. Here’s who to look out for:

Marianne Vos leads the charge in Namur. Photo: Balint.

Marianne Vos leads the charge in Namur. Photo: Balint.

Marianne Vos (NED) – perhaps the greatest female cyclist ever, Vos continues to impress across the various disciplines of cycling. In addition to being the defend champion, Vos captured a road world title, olympic gold, a national track title (in the madison) and won the Women’s Road World Cup in 2012. This cross season, she has won all but three races she’s entered, including the final three rounds of the World Cup.

Katie Compton (USA) – Compton has proven unbeatable on US soil and would love to continue that trend on Sunday. She’s arguably the greatest US cross racer ever and became the first American to win the World Cup this season. She’s been on the podium at Worlds before, and knows what it takes to win. If she can put it all together, she could easily be the World Champion in Louisville.

Katerina Nash (CZE) – Nash delayed her start to the season to recover from a long mountain bike season. This has proven very effective thus far, as she has podiumed in all but three races she’s entered. She hasn’t been able to top Compton or Vos just yet, but is always in the mix. One of her biggest advantages is that she spends most of the season racing in the US. Thus, she’s familiar with the course, the travel and the fans.

Helen Wymann (GBR) – the European champion has had one of her best seasons ever which has seen her become the second ranked rider in the world (in terms of UCI points). Wymann started her season by crushing the competition in the US and was one of a few riders who did the USGP in Louisville to get a feel for the course. If Wymann rides the way she’s capable of and has good form, she could become the second Brit to stand on the women’s podium.

Sanne Cant (BEL) – at 23-years-old, Cant is one of the youngest riders in the field, and could be the most surprising. She’s been in the thick of things with all the aforementioned riders and has proven to be a true threat. After winning the Belgian National Championships, she slipped a bit at the final World Cup round, leaving a few question marks about her form. With that said, she’s the fourth ranked rider in the world for a reason and will have every Belgian fans support on Sunday.

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