This Sunday the 2010/2011 World Cup season kicks off in Aigle, Switzerland,and Cyclocross Magazine will be there to keep you up on the action. We will provide live coverage of the event this Sunday, details are here. Look for a huge influx of Americans to make the start, details below.

Zdenek Stybar is fresh off of his fifth consecutive win to open up his season, and represent his rainbow stripes, in style. Belgian national champ Sven Nys, a factor in every race, pushed Stybar to the limit in Kermiscross, with Stybar just edging out his rival in a sprint for the line. Bart Aernouts, second to Stybar in the Ruddervoorde GvA, is enjoying great early season form and could very well find a podium spot. Early weather forecasts indicated a possibility for snow (!), which could favor Nys’ handling skills, but it’s now looking more like scattered showers, with temps in the high 30s to mid-40s.

In the women’s race, Katie Compton will see how her North American dominance stacks up against a European field, as will Czech Katerina Nash, who won StarCrossed, Rad Racing GP and CrossVegas. Waiting for them will be the likes of Dutch riders Sanne van Paassen, who CXM regular contributor Bart Hazen dubs “the best women’s cyclocross rider in Europe at the moment” and Daphny van den Brand, former World Champ Hanka Kupfernagel and Belgian Sanne Cant. Reigning World Champ Marianne Vos, fresh off a silver medal performance in the Worlds Road Race, is sure to be a favorite later in the cyclocross season.

But look a little closer at the start lists, and you’ll see a larger-than-typical influx of Americans for the World Cup kickoff.

Aigle World Cup course map

Americans Lining Up for Early Season World Cups

Katie Compton had an impressive run of results during her early season US campaign, culminating with a sweep of the UCI3 to claim her 45th UCI win last weekend. An on-form Compton is sure to be one of the main animators in the women’s race. While Jonathan Page may not have garnered the results he’d hoped for in his US swing, his podium performances and European rides the past couple of weeks reveal him to be on form.

But the US fields are much deeper than just those two regulars – and many of them could very well prove to be factors in the races. The Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com trio will be racing, although they’ll be in the unfamiliar position of starting a couple of rows back. Jamey Driscoll’s ride in CrossVegas, where he was barely nipped by a streaking Frances Mourey at the line, followed by Tim Johnson’s and Jeremy Powers’ winning performances against star-studded fields in the Planet Bike USGPs proved that they’re up to the task. Adam Craig’s early season performances show him to be well on the way to recovery from his knee injury, although he claims so still have some difficulty with running. Craig, a regular competitor in European World Cup MTB races, will join his Euro Rabo-Giant ’cross teammates for the event. [Update: Craig returned home after the Rock d'Azur mountain bike race and will skip the event.]

Joining Compton in the Elite women’s race will be Amy Dombroski and Sue Butler. Butler has been a fixture on the podium so far this year and, if her performances against two of the world’s best – namely previous World Cup race winners Compton and Katerina Nash (Luna) – are any indication, she could find herself battling for a great World Cup result. Dombroski, second at CrossVegas behind her teammate Nash, could very well power her way into the front group.

Press Release from the UCI:

A circuit around the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle (Switzerland), the headquarters of the International Cycling Union (UCI), will be the scene of the first act of the 2010-2011 UCI Patrick Cyclo-cross World Cup on Sunday.

The inaugural race of the series – for which the sports and lifestyle brand of shoes Patrick, owned by the Belgian company Cortina Group, will be title sponsor for the first time this year – will propose a high quality sporting spectacle as all the world’s best specialists have announced their participation.

The numerous fans expected to come to this beautiful region of Switzerland – which has already hosted World Cup rounds over the last years and where cyclo-cross is ever popular – will have the chance to witness the first real direct confrontation between the main players of the season, which will end with the UCI World Championships in St-Wendel in January.

Among those registered to compete – 71 men and 38 women representing 14 nations – are notably the Czech Zdenek Stybar, who took the title in Tabor and is still unbeaten since the beginning of the season, the French Francis Mourey, victorious three times at events organised in the United States where the Americans Timothy Johnson and Jeremy Powers also shone, as well as all the members of the impressive Belgian contingent (with Niels Albers, convalescent).

In the women’s competition, in the absence of the World Champion Marianne Vos, her Dutch compatriot Daphny Van den Brand, the German Hanka Kupfernagel and the American Katherine Compton step into the role of favourites.

During this first UCI event of the season, the UCI President Pat McQuaid will present the French rider Arnaud Jouffroy – third in Tabor – with the gold medal and the Under-23 World Champion’s rainbow jersey, following the disqualification of the Polish brothers Pawel and Kacper Szcepaniak.

After Aigle, the 2010-2011 Patrick Cyclo-cross World Cup will continue with a further seven rounds, in Plsen (CZE), Koksijde (BEL), Igorre (ESP), Kalmthout (BEL), Heusden-Zolder (BEL), Pont-Château (FRA) and Hoogerheide (NED).