January 28/06 4:45 am - 'Cross Worlds Preview
Posted by Editor on 01/28/06
Cyclo-cross World Championships Preview
Predictions are that the course for the Cyclo-cross World Championships this weekend will be fast. The temperature has been hovering around -2 Celcius for the past week, making the ground very hard. There were concerns that the frost was making some of the corners and downhill very slippery, but Wendy Simms (Canada) says that the organizers are putting sawdust down to reduce the problem. It is expected to warm up during the day, and this could unfreeze the top layer of ground, making for some muddy sections.
The circuit is just over three kilometres in length, with nearly half grass. Pavement and sand make up approximately 20% each, plus one short section of brick. The most difficult portion is considered to be the middle third, where the riders complete a technical descent on grass, followed by a climb to a set of stairs to run up, then a paved climb and sand.
The Junior men and the Espoir men race today (Saturday) at 40 minutes and 50 minutes respectively. The women race tomorrow morning for 40 minutes, with the Elite men in the afternoon for 60 minutes.
The favourite for the Elite men is, without question, defending champion Sven Nys (Belgium). Nys has proven to be almost unbeatable this season, with wins in 8 out of 10 World Cups and the Belgian national title (which maybe be harder than the World Cup). Other contenders, should Nys falter, include his countrymen Bart Wellens (2003-4 world champion), who has finished second to Nys on numerous occasions and Erwin Vervecken, who won the final World Cup last week. However, the race is Nys' to lose.
The U.S. has five riders in the race (Jonathan Page, Barry Wicks, Eric Tonkin, Jeremy Powers and Jonathan Baker) and Canada has Greg Reain, silver medalist at the national championships.
In the women's field is more open, with Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) and Daphny van den Brand (Ned) the favourites. The pair sprinted for the win last weekend at the World Cup with van den Brand winning (as she has most of the season. However, Kupfernagel is coming on stronger as the Worlds have approached. Other favourites include Canada's Lyne Bessette, who has two podiums in the four World Cups she has contested, and Marianne Vos (Ned) with several podiums also.
We are less than an hour from the start of the Junior men's race, which has a large fild of 64 riders. Canada has one participant - Mike Bidniak. This afternoon (8:30 am EST) the Espoir men race, with again one Canadian -Ryan Hopping.