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January 30/09 12:00 pm - Cyclocross World Championships: preview

Posted by Editoress on 01/30/09

Cyclocross World Championships Hoogerheide NED


The cyclo-cross season culminates tomorrow with the world championships in Hoogerheide, Holland, a small town on the outskirts of Antwerp, literally within sight of the Belgian border. Today, the weather is bright and sunny, with the temperature in the low single digits, and the same is expected for tomorrow. However, forecasts for Sunday show it taking a turn for the worst with possible rain or even snow.

The riders were out getting a final day of training on the 3.1 kilometre circuit. Canadian Pepper Harlan, who trained in the morning (at the time the women's race will take place on Sunday), said that the ground is very hard and the course is fast. The frost in the morning makes some sections slippery, but there is little mud.

Even in the afternoon session, when many of the men were out, there was only a then layer of mud on top of the track, and it was slick in, at most, a few sharp corners. Barring wet weather, the elite men will be lapping in under six minutes.

The circuit is not technical, with even the so-called 'run-up' section being ridden by most riders. From the start, the riders head through the center of town and then past the Pits for the first time on a flat, zig-zagging grass section. Over a bridge built for the race, they head briefly into the woods, with an off-camber corner into an uphill giving some riders trouble.

After a few more zig-zags on the grass, there is a long, fast grassy straightaway, followed by a pave shallow climb before heading under the bridge they crossed for the second half of the circuit. This second half has a considerable amount of pavement also, plus, approximately a kilometre from the finish, the main obstacle of the course - a steep, muddy chute with an abrupt left at the bottom followed immediately by a pair of 180's. From here the riders head back onto the pavement for a short climb to the finishing straight.

Tomorrow, the Junior men are off at 11:30 am local (5:30 am EST) for 40 minutes, followed by the Espoir men at 2:30 pm local (8:30 am EST) for 50 minutes. The elite women and men go at the same times on Sunday for 40 minutes and 60 minutes respectively. We will have live coverage for all events.

Canada has an eight rider team here, with Andrew Thomas, Brian Robinson and Kyle Fry racing Espoir, Wendy Simms, Natasha Elliot and Pepper Harlton in the Elite women and Aaron Schooler and Derrick St John for the Elite men.


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