US Cross – Week 12 Predictions

Photo: Todd Prepaski.

As most of the nation digests their Thanksgiving meals and recovers from the Black Friday extravaganza, the cross world focuses on New England for the final two rounds of the Verge New England Cyclocross series in Sterling, MA. This year, Baystate Cyclocross offers a pair of UCI C2 races, which will bring out the regions top riders. Saturday’s race will be a typical New England affair, with the regions top riders battling it out for victory. Sunday however, will bring the big guns to town. Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson confirmed that they will race Sunday’s race and both men are looking for victory. Here’s how I think the weekend will play out:

Baystate Cyclocross – Day 1 (C2)

The Winner

Justin Lindine – Lindine hasn’t been able to reproduce last years season, which made him a household name. However, he has quietly had a very solid season in New England and looks set to take the Verge Series title. Look for Lindine to pick up the win in Sterling.

The Podium

Jeremy Durrin – Durrin is always a podium threat. Last year he landed inside the top five both days. I expect him to podium on Saturday and could even make a bid for victory.

Dan Timmerman – Timmerman’s return to elite cross has been a bit quiet as of late. Timmerman tends to excel in wet conditions, which doesn’t look likely this weekend. However, for some reason, I like Timmerman this weekend. Look for him to podium on Saturday.

Baystate Cyclocross – Day 2 (C2)

The Winner

Jeremy Powers – Powers seems unstoppable right now. He’ll head to Europe next weekend for the Roubaix round of the World Cup and we will again see where he stacks up against the world’s best. For now, look for him to crush it on Sunday.

The Podium

Tim Johnson – coming off a pair of victories in Iowa, many think Tim Johnson may be back. He’ll have his hands full with a hungry New England field and perennial rival Jeremy Powers. I would love to say that Johnson could pull off the upset, but I just don’t see it. I expect him to podium though.

Justin Lindine – after a win on Saturday, look for Lindine to try and stay in the mix on Sunday. I think Powers and Johnson are still a step ahead of Lindine, but I like his odds to podium on Sunday.

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Cross Top 25 – Week 11

[top25-vote start='1353283200' end='1353542400']

It started to feel like it was only a matter of time before Jeremy Powers lost his grip on the Top 25. This week, that time has come as Sven Nys takes over the number one spot. Powers remains number one in the computer rankings, but ranked seventh in the poll. Powers was also out of action this past weekend, which helped Nys close the gap in the computer.

Niels Albert was second in the poll and third in the computer, so he remains at third overall. Kevin Pauwels was third in the poll followed by Klaas Vantornout and Lars van der Haar. Bart Aernouts was sixth in the poll followed by Powers and a slew of Americans including Dan Chabanov, Tim Johnson and Dan Timmerman.

Niels Albert overtakes Powers for the most UCI points this season while Jonathan Page (14th) remains the top rider in terms of race quality and strength of schedule. Ryan Trebon fell eleven spots this week to 16th, while Ben Berden jumped up six spots to ninth.

The biggest surprises came from the poll which launched Chabanov, Timmerman and Adam Myerson into the Top 25. All three riders are outside the top 30 in the computer and Myerson is the only rider in the Top 25 without any UCI points.

With another World Cup race and a Superprestige race on tap in Europe this weekend, the Americans may continue to slide down in the rankings. This week, there are only nine Americans in the Top 25 and only three in the top ten.

[top25-week id=17]

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Cross Predictions – Week 11 Wrap-Up

Tim Johnson. Photo: Todd Prekaski

It was a mixed bag this weekend as far as the predictions went. Sven Nys dominated in Belgium (as predicted) and Martin Bina picked up another Toi Toi Cup (as predicted). The rest of the European podiums were hit or miss this. One quick note, I do know that Japan is not a part of Europe, but I put it in the European races. I will be doing the same thing this week.

Stateside, I managed to predict the riders who were active in Iowa. Unfortunately, I was unable to nail down who would do what. Interestingly enough, I only missed two spots on the podium, including Trebon’s DNF on Sunday. As far as the Canadian races went, Geoff Kabush won both races (as predicted).

European Cross

Toi Toi Cup (C2)

1. Martin Bina – 1st
2. Tomas Paprstka – 6th
3. Michael Boros – 8th

Points: 3

Bpost Bank Trofee – GP Hasselt (C2)

1. Sven Nys – 1st
2. Niels Albert – 2nd
3. Bart Aernouts – 7th

Points: 4

Shinshu Cyclocross Nobeyama (C2)

1. Keiichi Tsujiura – DNS
2. Kohei Yamamoto – 9th
3. Masanori Kosaka – 2nd

Points: 1

National Trophy Series Round 3 (C2)

1. Tom van den Bosch – 3rd
2. Oli Beckingsale – 4th
3. Paul Oldham – 2nd

Points: 2

Challenge National 2ème Epreuve (C2)

1. Francis Mourey  - 1st
2. Julien Roussel – 5th
3. Nicolas Bazin – 4th

Points: 3

Fluckiger Cross (C2)

1. Simon Zahner – 3rd
2. David Kasek – 17th
3. Lukas Fluckiger – 2nd

Points: 2

Superprestige Gavere (C1)

1. Sven Nys – 1st
2. Lars van der Haar – 10th
3. Niels Albert – 6th

Points: 3

Total: 18/35 (51%)

North American Cross

Jingle Cross Rock – Rock 1 (C2)

1. Ryan Trebon – 4th
2. Chris Jones – 2nd
3. Jamie Driscoll – 1st

Points: 2

Jingle Cross Rock – Rock 2 (C2)

1. Ben Berden – 3rd
2. Ryan Trebon – 2nd
3. Tim Johnson – 1st

Points: 3

Jingle Cross Rock – Rock 3 (C1)

1. Ryan Trebon – DNF
2. Tim Johnson – 1st
3. Ben Berden – 3rd

Points: 2

Canadian National Championships (CN)

1. Geoff Kabush – 1st
2. Chris Sheppard – 2nd
3. Aaron Schooler – 5th

Points: 4

BC Grand Prix of Cross (C2)

1. Geoff Kabush – 1st
2. Chris Sheppard – 6th
3. Mike Garrigan – DNS

Points: 3

Total: 14/25 (56%)

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Nicolas Bazin Interview

Two years ago the relatively unknown (to American cross fnas) Nicolas Bazin kicked off his cross season in the United States, where he picked up a pair of victories in Vermont and Rochester. Bazin then headed back to Europe where he had mixed success before embarking on a long road season with BigMat-Auber 93.

In early September it wasn’t a big surprise to see Bazin’s name on the start list of races like Rohrbach’s Ellison Park Cyclocross and the Catamount Grand Prix. What followed was a string of victories, including sweeping Ellison Park Cross, the first day of the Catamount GP and sweeping Charm City Cross. Before heading back to Europe, Bazin added a pair of top ten’s in Gloucester to his five wins.

After Bazin headed back to France in October, we caught up with him via email. We cannot thank Nicolas enough for this interview. English is not his native language and French is not ours. He did a wonderful job responding to our questions in English.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in cycling in general? How did you get started in cross?

When mountain biking became popular in France, I started riding with my father when I was seven years old. In the beginning, we did some mountain bikes races, but I didn’t start racing with a club (US Domont) until I was 13. I raced some mountain bike and some road races with the club. When I was 14, I did my first cyclocross race to keep fit and racing during the winter. However, it has become my favorite sport!

What do you during the “off-season”? Road? MTB? Other?

For a long time, I raced all three sports. I would race road and mountain in the summer and cyclocross during the winter. From 2006 – 2008 I was on a UCI MTB Team [BH-Sr. Suntour] and raced all the World Cups. As a result, I didn’t do a lot of road races. Since 2009, I have stopped mountain biking and joined a continental team on the road, but I have continued to race cyclocross during the winter.

In France, cyclocross is the “off-season,” my work is on the road. I am lucky to have a team that is okay with me racing during the cross season!

Bazin with his coach Pierre Hutsebaut (www.peakcentremontreal.ca).

Why have you chosen to come to the US to start your season the past two years?

For the past two years, I’ve been going to Canada in December to visit my coach who lives near Montreal. It’s not too far of a trip to come to the US each weekend for racing. The US has a very good start to the season. Each weekend, I can do two UCI races. The level of racing is good, but no too high like in Belgium. My goal is to go for the win, get into the rhythm of racing and get UCI points. This is very important for the starting position at the World Cups.

 

 

 

What differences do you see between the US and European racing?

In the US, there are a lot of people at each race and a lot of races each day, with a lot of categories (masters, juniors, etc.). Everyone comes to race. At UCI races in Europe, there are less racers and races, but more spectators. In Belgium, there are 10,000 people at each race, and even more in December and January. In France we don’t have a lot of big races. There are only three UCI races, but a lot of little “regional” races.

Why have you been so successful this season in the US?

I don’t know. I’m trying to have a good season this year and I hope it continues!

Bazin grabs the victory at Catamount GP – Day 1. Photo: Todd Prekaski.

What are your big goals this season?

My big goal this season is the French National Championships, as is every French riders!

France has become a big-time cross country over the past few years. Francis Mourey, Aurelien Duval, Matthieu Boulo, Arnaud Jouffroy, John Gadret, yourself, the list goes on and on. Why/how has France become such a prominent cross country?

I think cross is a very pleasant sport for young people; it’s short, spectacular, fun, and muddy! Each race of the “challenge national” has a lot of Cadet [15/16] and Junior [17/18] riders. There are more than 150 racers at each race.

Note: this years series has had over 100 junior riders at it events, almost half of whom are women.

What one race would you love to win?

A lot! Of course, the World Champion’s jersey is the most important, but it’s a very hard goal for me. A French championship is very hard to win, but I can do that. It’s a one day race and anything can happen!

The 2009 World Championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands drew massive crowds. Photo: Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net

What’s your most memorable cross race or moment?

Maybe the World Championships in Hoogereide. There were 60,000 people, it was a very fast race and it was enormously noisy all the race. It was hard and I was nervous, but it was a wonderful experience.

We looked for you on Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc. and cannot find you. In this age of technology how have you been able to not get sucked into everything?

I’m on Facebook, but I try to have just my family and real friends in contact with me. I have a sportblog, in French (nicolasbazin.sportblog.fr).

France in known for their wine, cross is known for its beer. What’s your favorite wine? Beer?

Wine for sure! A white wine, do you know “Sancère”?

Once again, thanks to Nicolas for the interview. We will continue to follow him throughout the season and hope to catch up with him towards the end of the year.

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European Cross – Week 10 Predictions

Sven Nys and Niels Albert locked in battle at Koppenbergcross.

I will keep this introductory paragraph short since there are a lot of predictions to get to. The Bpost Bank Trofee and Superprestige series both continue this weekend as does the Toi Toi Cup. The National Trophy Series heads to Southampton, while Fluckiger Cross makes it’s debut in Switzerland. France’s national series also continues this weekend and Japan hosts one of its annual UCI races. Without further ado, here’s how I think things will play out:

Toi Toi Cup (C2)

The Winner

Martin Bina – to say Bina is on a roll in the Toi Toi Cup would be an understatement. His victories are becoming more challenging, but I expect him to pick up his fifth straight Toi Toi Cup victory in Hole Vrchy.

The Podium

Tomas Paprstak – Paprstak was out sprinted last weekend by Bina and would love to spoil the party this weekend. Look for him to go for the upset, but I expect him to fall a bit short.

Michael Boros – Boros was just a few seconds off the pace last weekend. Boros is a rider to watch, look for the youngster to land on the podium.

Bpost Bank Trofee – GP Hasselt (C2)

The Winner

Sven Nys – last year Nys finished third in a three-up sprint in Hasselt. While he still trails Albert by nearly a minute overall, look for Nys to ride to a solo victory and close the gap in the battle for the overall.

The Podium

Niels Albert – Albert missed Hasselt last year due to injury. As the current leader, he will be poised to keep the time gaps in control against the likes of Pauwels and Nys. Despite Albert’s victory last weekend, I’m still on the Nys train.

Bart Aernouts – Aernouts quietly switched teams this year leaving Robbobank for the AA Drink team. Aernouts has moved up from chase group leader to podium contender this season and I like his odds on Saturday.

Shinshu Cyclocross Nobeyama (C2)

The Winner

Keiichi Tsujiura – with Yu Takenouchi racing in Europe, it opens the door for some other Japanese riders to taste victory. Look for Tsujiura to take full advantage of this on Sunday.

The Podium

Kohei Yamamoto – Yamamoto is another strong Japanese rider who is always a podium threat in his native land. Look for him to podium.

Masanori Kosaka – believe it or not, I think this 50-year-old rider can podium on Sunday. He’s the “most experienced” rider with UCI points and is usually in the thick of things in Japan.

National Trophy Series Round 3 (C2)

The Winner

Tom van den Bosch – after narrowly losing out on victory in Ipswich, look for van den Bosch to win on Sunday in Southampton.

The Podium

Oli Beckingsale – at 37-years-old, Beckingsale is still a great competitor. He’s finished fourth and third in the first two National Trophy Series rounds. I expect him to podium this weekend.

Paul Oldham – finishing fourth in Southampton last year, look for Oldham to podium on Sunday. A perennial overall favorite, Oldham currently trials Beckingsale by a mere two points. Look for these two to go all out on Sunday.

Challenge National 2ème Epreuve (C2)

The Winner

Francis Mourey  - Mourey should continue his domination in his native land this weekend with a repeat in Besancon.

The Podium

Julien Roussel – after finishing fourth last year, look for the relatively unknown Roussel to land on the podium and make his presence felt.

Nicolas Bazin – we caught up with Bazin a few weeks ago as he made the transition back to Europe (interview will be up next week). Since then he has struggled a bit. Look for him to rebound with a podium on Sunday.

Fluckiger Cross (C2)

The Winner

Simon Zahner – while it would make sense to pick one of the brothers for whom this race is named after, I’m going with fellow countryman Zahner. He’s having a good season and I like his odds on Sunday.

The Podium

David Kasek – one of a handful of Czech riders heading to Switzerland on Sunday, Kasek should be right in the mix. Look for him to podium.

Lukas Fluckiger – after a superb start to the season, Fluckiger has backed off a bit as he prepares for 2013. Look for him to defend his home turf with pride, honor and a podium finish.

Superprestige Gavere (C1)

The Winner

Sven Nys – as I said, once again I’m all in for Nys this weekend. He’s starting to ride like the man we once knew, winning virtually everything in sight. Someday, the Superprestige series will be referred to as the Sven Nys Series with his decade plus domination. Can he make it a fourth straight Superprestige victory? I think so.

The Podium

Lars van der Haar – despite receiving the “kiss of death,” in my opinion, van der Harr is a smart youngster with a good head on his shoulders. Albert’s prediction as the heavy favorite shouldn’t effect van der Haar too much. look for him to podium this weekend.

Niels Albert – Albert and Nys are the two best cross riders in the world right now. These two guys will be on every podium in my predictions until someone proves me wrong.

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2012 Canadian Cross National Champs Weekend – Predictions

After two years in Toronto, the Canadian National Championships head to the West Coast for a weekend of racing in British Columbia. With the National Championships on Saturday and a C2 race on Sunday, the weekend promises to be an exciting one as Canada’s best riders converge on South Surrey Athletic Park. There are half a dozen riders who should contend for the title, but three men are trying to break a tie for most titles won. Chris Sheppard, Geoff Kabush and Mike Garrigan all have two titles and would love to pick up a third. In an interesting sub-plot Sheppard, Kabush and Craig Richey (my darkhorse pick) are all BC natives. Can one of the boys defend their home turf? Here’s what I think will happen:

Canadian National Championships (CN)

The Winner

Geoff Kabush – Kabush had a great mountain bike season that has translated into a solid cross season. Despite not racing week in and week out, when Kabush does race, he’s a podium threat. I expect him to take the win on Saturday and become a three-time national champion.

The Podium

Chris Sheppard – Sheppard’s bid to win three straight titles is a possibility, but I think Kabush is a bit too strong. Sheppard has become Canada’s top crosser over the past few years and should be a shoo in for World’s. The battle between Kabush and Sheppard should be the highlight of the race.

Aaron Schooler – it almost pains me to put Schooler on the podium. Schooler has finished third for the past four years. I’d almost rather pick him to finish off the podium, but five-straight podium finishes would be impressive. Is he capable of winning? I don’t think so, but I have been wrong before.

BC Grand Prix of Cross (C2)

The Winner

Geoff Kabush – I would expect whoever wins on Saturday to ride the wave to a win on Sunday. Therefore, I pick Kabush to win.

The Podium

Chris Sheppard – as I mentioned, Sheppard has become Canada’s top cross racer over the past few years. Look for him to land on the podium on Sunday as well.

Mike Garrigan – a two-time national champion, Garrigan spends most of his season racing in New England and the mid-Atlantic region. Always a podium threat, I expect him to step up on the podium on Sunday.

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