A week chock full of Euro racing action, with the who’s who of cyclocross in Europe putting their pride on the line: Al and Nys go head to head for the second week in a row, Vos continues consistent string of results, Lars Boom winds up his season, lots of excitement at the Olympia’s Tour, and much more!

Thijs Al Gets Revenge on Sven Nys at Stappenbelt Rabobank Trophy

The tides that delivered Sven Nys to victory last weekend in Averbode at the Benelux Championships turned in the favor of Thijs Al, the man who finished runner up to Nys a week prior. At this weekend’s Stappenbelt Rabobank Trophy in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Thijs Al took a 1:10 win over Nys, highlighting an all-cyclocross podium. Third place on the day went to Gerben de Knegt, who also had faired well at the Benelux Championships. Other notable cyclocross riders present in Apeldoorn included Sven Vanthrouenhout, who finished a strong 7th, Jan Verstraeten, who notched a 9th place finish, young gun Tom Meeusen, who found himself in 12th place when the dust settled, and Wilant Van Gils, who just missed out on a top 20 finish, taking home 21st.

Daphny Van den Brand showcased her dominance in all forms of cycling, taking home the victory in the women’s race. Van den Brand outpaced her competition by 33 seconds, and was a further 45 seconds ahead of Belgian Cyclocross Champion Joyce Vanderbeken, who finished the day in third.

Zdenek Stybar Continues Early Season Tuning

Zdenek Stybar was seen at this weekend’s second round of the Czech National Cup in Bystrice pod Hostynem, Czech Republic, where he finished a hard day’s work in 6th place, 4:54 behind the day’s winner. Just one place ahead of the Czech National Cyclocross Champion was fellow ‘crosser Jan Škarnitz, who rounded out the day’s top 5.

Lars Boom Animates Day’s Break at Tour de Rijke

Despite his best efforts, Lars Boom could not prevent the Tour de Rijke, a 199 kilometer jaunt through the Dutch countryside, from ending in a sprint finish. Boom spent much of the day out of touch with the peloton, tucked in a three man break desperately trying to trump the sprinters. Unfortunately, the three were caught before any of them were able to celebrate, and Boom subsequently decided to call it a day. The day prior, Boom lined up in the Dutch Food Valley Classic. Boom’s first finish of the year brought him to 54th near the back end of the peloton, which finished in a sprint to the line. Boom’s sprinter and team leader Graeme Brown was second on the day, thanks in large part to the work of his team.

Cyclocross on Display at Olympia’s Tour

Newly minted professional cyclocross rider Eddy Van IJzendoorn has been making a name for himself lately as a top notch sprinter, mixing it up with the big names of the Dutch domestic peloton. Van IJzendoorn’s most recent exploits have taken him to the Olympia’s Tour in the Netherlands, where over the course of three stages, Van IJzendoorn has nabbed 6th in stage 2 and 9th in stage 3.

Other big names have also been at the front of the peloton at the Olympia’s Tour (which has seen Theo Bos go 3 for 3 in stage wins), including Thijs Al who seems to be splitting his time between the knobby tires of mountain bikes and the skinny tires of the road. Al and Van IJzendoorn both sit at :38 seconds down on GC (being teammates, they both have the same time from stage 1’s team time trial). Youngster Boy Van Poppel sits in 6th place on GC, owing much to being a member of the team that won stage 1’s team time trial. Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin teammates, Danny Summerhill and Alex Howes put in a strong performance on stage 1 as well, as members of the 4th fastest team on the day, finishing 11 seconds behind the winning Rabobank team. Both have since lost big time to their rivals, and sit down on the overall standings, due to crucial work they have been doing for their teammates.

The Tour de l’Aude Brings Out Top Talent

The year’s first big women’s stage race is underway in France, with the Tour de l’Aude kicking off this past Sunday. Marianne Vos – the reigning World Cyclocross Champion – has been having a normal set of races by her standards, never far from the top of the podium. In stage 1, Vos managed to cover the 3.9 kilometer prologue just 5 short second behind the stage winner, just slightly ahead of Mirjam Melchers Van Poppel, who finished 7 seconds off the pace. Those times were good enough for 7th and 8th respectively. Also taking part in the week’s festivities were the Vision 1 Racing trio of Christel Ferrier Bruneau (55th in prologue), Helen Wyman (64th) and Gabriella Day (93rd), Sanne Van Paassen (40th) and Saskia Elemans (53rd).

The sprint was on in stage one, where Vos was able to move up to second on GC after a strong sprint put here into third place on the stage. In stage two, team Flexpoint (containing Melchers Van Poppel and Elemans) was the strongest of the teams with cyclocross talent, notching the 3rd fastest time. Vos’ DSB Bank team was 5th, followed by Pays Bas  with Sanne Van Paassen in 9th and Vision 1 Racing in 11th.

Vos caught the wrong end of some bad luck in stage three, where a crash took her out of contention for the final sprint, meaning she was unable to make up some of the time she had lost in the team time trial the day prior. Ferrier-Bruneau was the best placed ‘crosser in stage three, finishing 24th. Vos made up for her bad luck in stage three by taking a convincing win out of a 4 woman breakaway group in stage four. Vos was able to move herself back into 3rd in the overall, after besting Vision 1’s team leader Nicole Cook in a sprint to the line.

Vos was once again in the top 5 in stage five, sprinting home for 5th place on the stage, after a breakaway of 3 was able to put 40 second’s distance between themselves and the chasing peloton. Vos again won the field sprint behind a breakaway group in stage six, but this time there was much more daylight separating the winners and the peloton. 6:14 was the damage when Vos crossed the line in 4th place, behind a three woman break which comfortable took home the stage win. With three stages left to run, Vos is in 5th place on GC, 6:35 behind the lead, but while the overall victory looks to be easily out of touch, she is leading the Young Rider classification by more than 8 minutes, and is only 1 point adrift of the points classification. Van Paassen is inside the top 30 in 27th place, 24:25 behind the leader. Ferrier-Bruneau is just behind in 29th, 24:40 behind. Elemans is 36:26 behind in 47th overall. Helen Wyman is an even 50th, 36:54 behind. Gabriella Day and Mirjam Melchers Van Poppel have both dropped out.

Wondering what your favorite mudders have been up to?  Doing your homework so you can win Cyclocross Magazine’s fantasy cyclocross league next season? We’ve got you covered with our new, weekly report on your favorite top ‘crossers. Each week Jake Sisson will bring you the latest news, gossip, and maybe even a tweet or two on the pro scene. This is installment #9. Installment #8 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know!