Marianne Vos wins the 2012 Dutch National Championships.

Marianne Vos wins the 2012 Dutch National Championships.

by Evan Schmitt

The fastest female cyclocross racers in the world will toe to the line Sunday morning in Koksijde, Belgium, but the race is all but decided. The race will be one rider’s race to lose, while for other riders, it would be a career-highlighting victory.

In 2012, London will host the Olympic Games, and for Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Giant), a gold medal in the road race is the biggest thing on her plate. However, the reigning world champion has a title to defend in Koksijde before she even touches the road bike. Vos skipped the early part of the season to take a break from her long road season, but the seasoned veteran picked up where she left off, winning every single race she entered this year but one…the Koksijde World Cup (where she finished second to countrywoman Daphny van den Brand). She comes into the 2012 World Championships having won her last 15 races, making this race hers to lose.

Katie Compton ©Bart Hazen

Vos’ main challenger will be the decorated American national champion Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant). Earlier this month, Compton won her record eighth consecutive National Title in Madison, Wisconsin, in dominating fashion. The World Championship title has been elusive to Compton, but she still has a pair of silver and bronze medals to show for her prolific career. The 2011 silver medalist also won the World Cup in Plzen, Czech Republic, back in October.

Also on Vos’ radar will be her fellow Dutch teammate Daphny van den Brand. Van Den Brand won the World Cup overall this season and the 2011 Koksijde World Cup after a tight battle with Vos.

Playing Compton’s backup on the American squad will be a team that all qualified for Worlds based on top-15 results at World Cups. Amy Dombroski (Crankbrothers) earned her spot on the team after a sixth place finish at the World Cup in Plzen. However, Dombroski had to sit out Nationals due to illness.

Kaitlin Antonneau © Bart Hazen

Kaitlin Antonneau in Namur. © Bart Hazen

Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) landed a spot on the team with a 10th place finish at the World Cup in Namur, Belgium, and her teammate Nicole Duke earned her spot with her top-15 ride at the World Cup in Plzen.

Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized) rounds out the squad and qualified with her top-15 placing at the World Cup in Tabor and had the most UCI points earned on American soil this year.

And don’t forget, we’ve got live coverage of the 2012 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium, on January 29, 2012 with live blogging of the Elite Women’s and Elite Men’s races. Races are at 11am and 3pm Belgian time, which is an early 5am EST and 9am EST. Join us as we give you live, interactive updates of the racing, complete with updates of the American racers we’ll be getting from on-the-ground reporters (as well as technology allows). It’s the perfect way to start your Sunday morning, and complements any live video feed you might find.