European Cross – Week 12 Predictions

Francis Mourey. Photo: Balint (http://cyclephotos.co.uk/).

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. Here’s how things should play out:

National Trophy Series – Round 4 (C2)

The Winner

Floris de Tier – a young, under-23 Belgian, de Tier actually led this race last year before crashing hard. Last year’s race was won by Thijs Al, who along with a small contingent of foreign riders could make the trip. I’m sticking with de Tier if those heavy hitters don’t show up.

The Podium

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)

The Winner

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.

The Podium

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. It’s tough to think that the podium will not feature a single Austrian rider, but i’m going to stick with my guns.

XIX Bryksy Cross (C2)

The Winner

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.

The Podium

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, I’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)

The Winner

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 “triple crown” (World Cup, Superprestige and Bpost bank Trofee). A win on Sunday would cement him in the lead of the World Cup series.

The Podium

Klaas Vantornout – the consummate teammate to Kevin Pauwels, Vantornout is clearly riding better than last year’s World Cup winner. Despite edging out Nys last weekend, I still think he’s not on the same level as the Belgian National Champion. It’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), it’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 there’s Francis Mourey, who will be riding on home soil. With that said, look for Albert to be the “best of the rest” this weekend in Roubaix.

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Cross Top25 – Week 12

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After a World Cup win and a second place finish at the fifth round of the Superprestige series, Sven Nys maintains the top spot in the rankings. More importantly, Nys jumped a head of Jeremy Powers in the computer rankings, meaning that the American will now need to finish towards the top of the poll if he has a shot at the top spot.

Strengthing Nys’ lead was the fact that he finished first in the poll a head of Niels Albert, Dan Timmerman, Klaas Vantornout and Francis Mourey. A slew of Americans fill out the rest of the top ten vote getters.

Overall, Powers maintains the number two spot a head of Niels Albert, Francis Mourey and Klaas Vantornout. Jonathan Page is the only other American in the top ten. However, due to high finishes in the poll, there are now nine Americans in the Top 25.

In addition to being number one in the poll and computer, Nys is also number one in UCI points. Powers has the highest winning percentage of anyone in the Top 25, while Page continues to be number one in strength of schedule and field quality.

Due to high poll placings, Timmerman, Daniel Chabanov and Adam Myerson all remain in the Top 25, despite being outside the top 35 in the computer rankings.

Francis Mourey made the biggest jump, but will undoubtedly fall as his schedule slows down over the coming weeks. Several riders dropped out of the Top 25 primarily due to a lack of votes in this weeks poll.

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Cross Predictions – Week 12 Wrap-Up

Jeremy Durrin attacked during the last half of a lap, taking the win as Mike Garrigan rolled in for second at Baystate Cross. Photo: Todd Prekaski.

In what has to be considered one of the most exciting weekends of racing across the board, I quickly watched as my glorious predictions came crashing down. The lesson I learned this weekend is never bet against Sven Nys. My working theory is unless he’s not at the race, he will podium. I also learned that those guys in New England are strong and exciting to watch. The depth of talent in that region is incredible. With that said, here’s how I did this weekend (hopefully next weekend will be better):

World Cup Round 3 – Koksijde (CDM)

1. Niels Albert – 2nd
2. Kevin Pauwels – 12th
3. Bart Aernouts – 4th

Points: 1

Kansai Cyclo Cross Yasu Round (C2)

1. Yu Takenouchi – 1st
2. Atsushi Maruyama – 2nd
3. Masanori Kosaka – 6th

Points: 4

Superprestige Round 5 – Gieten (C1)

1. Sven Nys – 2nd
2. Niels Albert – 5th
3. Lars van der Haar – 13th

Points: 1

Baystate Cyclocross – Day 1 (C2)

1. Justin Lindine – 5th
2. Jeremy Durrin – 1st
3. Dan Timmerman – 4th

Points: 1

Baystate Cyclocross – Day 2 (C2)

1. Jeremy Powers – 1st
2. Tim Johnson – 4th
3. Justin Lindine – 6th

Points: 3

Total: 10/30 (33%)

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What if Nys Really Sold Gieten?

This is where it all looked good and most people thought that it was a done deal, as Vantornout was leading by a few bike-lengths. But note, that Nys had already started sprinting. – Balint

By now most cross fans have seen and/or read about the final lap in Gieten on Sunday and several of the theories surrounding the bizarre final few hundred meters that saw Sven Nys nearly steal victory. Regardless of what you have heard, there are a few things that definitely occurred. Towards the end of the final lap, Klass Vantornout attacks Nys and Kevin Pauwels, ultimately gaping Pawuels. A few moments later, Nys bobbles in the mud, allowing Vantornout to hit the finishing straight with a gap.

From there things get interesting and the conspiracy theories begin to rage. Nys appears to realize he’s gaped and sits up, then he changes his mind and/or sees Vantornout slowing and decides to sprint. Vantornout holds on to win by a tire width. The picture above shows a slightly different scenario where Nys realizes he’s gaped  begins to wind up his sprint, but takes too long and narrowly misses out on victory. Regardless of what you saw, the fact remains that something goofy appeared to happen.

While we won’t divulge into any specific conspiracy theory, the real question is why would Nys purposely lose this race? If, in fact, he negotiated a deal with Vantornout and/or Pauwels what would Nys have to gain from the situation (beyond monetary compensation)? The answer is quite simple: nothing. However, if you look at it from the perspective of what Nys had to lose, you come to the same conclusion: nothing. Could a deal have been struck between the two men? Possibly. What would the outcome have looked like if Nys won? Here’s what each scenario would have looked like:

Klass Vantornout Wins

Klass Vantornout’s victory on Sunday marks his second win of the season and his biggest victory since he won this race in 2008. After pushing Sven Nys to the limit last weekend in Gavere, Vantornout was finally able to beat the nearly unstoppable Belgian National Champion. The victory also marks a major step forward for the Sunweb-Revor team, which has only won two races this year (Vantornout’s in Kemriscross and Kevin Pauwels in Tabor). The team has come under heavy criticism as of late and the dynamic duo of Vantornout and Pauwels has failed to play out like in previous years.

Unfortunately for Sven Nys, his Superprestige winning streak came to an end on Sunday in Gieten. The Belgian champ seemed to be in complete control of the race despite being the middle of a Sunweb-Revor sandwich. Had Nys not faltered in the mud, or had the finish line been a few more meters down the road, he most certainly would have one. After all, he showed everyone in Gavere that he can out-sprint Vantornout. More importantly though, Nys’ gap on Albert grew to eleven points, nearly locking up the overall for Nys.

Sven Nys Wins

Sven Nys is the man to beat after another impressive sprint victory in Gieten on Sunday. For the second straight week Nys out sprinted Klass Vantornout in a spectacular finish that saw the duo drop Vantornout’s teammate Kevin Pauwels in the final few hundred meters. The Sunweb-Revor duo once again failed to get rid of Nys, who has won every Superprestige race this season. As a result, Nys stretches his lead to 12 points over Niels Albert, nearly locking up the overall.

The heavy criticism of the Sunweb-Revor team will continue this week as the team has only picked up two victories this season (Vantornout’s in Kemriscross and Pauwels in Tabor) and has failed to deploy the team tactics that have made them so successful in the past. If Albert can’t beat Nys and Pauwels and Vantornout can’t beat him, the real question is who can?

There you have it. Either one of those endings makes for a great story. However, Vantornout winning changes almost everything for him and his team. Win or lose, Nys remains in control of the Superprestige series. What really happened? We may never know. Nys may have started his sprint too late, or maybe he struck a deal in a race who’s outcome didn’t really matter for a favor down the road. For now, congratulations to Vantornout on a hard fought victory.

One last note: at this level of the sport it is not uncommon for riders to simply give up in the sprint. Time and time again, you’ll see riders sprint for a few meters and realize they just don’t have it. So to see Nys give up is not surprising. To see him resprint, well that’s the whole reason for this article.

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Cross Top 25 Poll – Week 12 Voting Now Open

There were five different UCI races this past weekend with five different winners. Sven Nys put in an incredible performance on Saturday en route to a World Cup victory in Koksijde. The following day, Klaas Vantornout was able to get away from the Belgian National Champion to break Nys’ streak of four straight Superprestige victories. Meanwhile, Japanese National Champion, Yu Takenouchi picked up another UCI win in Japan. Stateside, it was a weekend for the Jeremy’s. Jeremy Durrin picked up a UCI C2 victory on Saturday while Jeremy Powers picked up a victory on Sunday at Baystate Cyclocross in Sterling, MA. Who do you think is the top rider right now? Let us know!

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European Cross – Week 11 Predictions

After a wild weekend last week, things calm down a bit this weekend as there are only two UCI races in Europe. The cross collective heads to Koksijde for the third time in the past year for the third round of the World Cup. Last year, Sven Nys won the World Cup round while Niels Albert won the World Championship race. Both men are on great form right now, but Nys has spent this week recovering from an illness. This should make things very interestings. The Superprestige leaves Belgium for it’s annual trip to Gieten, Netherlands on Sunday, while Japan hosts another UCI C2 race in Yasu. Here’s how I think things will shake out:

World Cup Round 3 – Koksijde (CDM)

The Winner

Niels Albert – Albert simply destroyed the field the last time they raced in Koksijde en route to a World Championship. With Nys and Pauwels not at 100%, I think this is Albert’s race to lose. I expect him to get away after the first few laps and never look back. It also helps that the most infamous dune on the course is now named after the Belgian.

The Podium

Kevin Pauwels – Pauwels finished on the podium both times he raced raced in Koksijde last season. Despite his lack of results this season, I expect the young Belgian to do well on Saturday. While I don’t think he’ll contend for victory, I expect him to land on the podium.

Bart Aernouts – every once in awhile, I go out on a limb. While riders like Sven Nys and Lars van der Haar have dominated in the past, Aernouts tends to ride very well in Koksijde. Look for him to surprise some people and land on the podium on Saturday.

Kansai Cyclo Cross Yasu Round (C2)

The Winner

Yu Takenouchi – the winner last year and last weekend, the Japanese National Champion is truly the countries top rider. At 25-years-old he’s also one of the country’s younger stars. Look for Takenouchi to pick up the win on Sunday.

The Podium

Masanori Kosaka – at 50 years of age, Kosaka once again becomes the oldest rider to pick up UCI points after his second place finish last weekend. Some called me crazy for predicting him to podium last week, so I’m sticking with it. He finished just off the podium in Yasu last year, something I’m sure he’ll better this year.

Atsushi Maruyama – another one of Japan’s more experienced riders, Maruyama is always a podium threat. I expect him to grab a spot on the podium this weekend.

Superprestige Round 5 – Gieten (C1)

The Winner

Sven Nys – despite being sick all week, and an expected poor performance in Koksijde, look for Nys to rebound with a win on Sunday in Gieten. Nys out sprinted Pauwels here last year and looks poised for the repeat. Nys remains undefeated this season in Superprestige races. I expect this incredible stat to continue this weekend.

The Podium

Niels Albert – Albert missed Gieten last season, but has had success here in the past. Look for him to keep Nys honest and make it an exciting battle. However, I think Nys will end up on top.

Lars van der Haar – a rare opportunity for van der Haar to race on home soil, look for the young Dutch rider to be at the front on Sunday. While I don’t think he’ll be able to pull off the victory, he could make things very interesting. I expect him to end up on the podium.

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