Which Euros will take the wins/podium predictions?
This is always a hard prediction because after the National Championships, all the riders focus on preparing specifically for the World Championships. For some, this means racing full gas through the final World Cup, and for some of the riders, they will put in a hard training week and use the final World Cup as the last day of a big block. So their performance at the final World Cup is not necessarily a good marker of their fitness because they might be fatigued from a hard training, but once they recover for a week, they will be flying for the World Championships. This is their hope, anyway, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
To answer your question, though, I see Sven Nys as the favorite to win this Sunday in Hoogerheide. He has won the World Cup round on this course before, and he skipped the final World Cup in Nommay to train specifically for Worlds. Lars Van Der Haar will be in his home country which always counts for something at the World Championships, and he won the World Cup, so you have to respect his ability. Of course, Kevin Pauwels, Niels Albert and Tom Meeusen always know how to rise to the occasion on the big day, and Klaas Vantornout was second at the World Championships last year and cannot be counted out.
On the women’s side, the top two picks are obvious with Katie Compton and Marianne Vos. Katie started her season slightly later than in the past, and I think that will serve her well at this point in the season. Marianne, however, is very fresh having missed most of the ’cross season and has been gaining fitness and momentum ever since she started racing in December. Being fresh is so much more valuable than people expect, so Vos has an advantage there. I, personally, would really love to see Katie win the World Championship, so I hope she continues with her momentum from the season. I think at this point she has less pressure coming into the World Championships because it is Marianne’s race to lose.
Best dark horse contenders?
Dark horse contenders for the men’s race are Philipp Walsleben and Rob Peters, and for the women’s race is Helen Wyman. It’s also interesting to note that former World Champ, Hanka Kunfernagal, is back in the mix.
How will the Americans fare?
As I mentioned, Katie Compton is a favorite for a podium spot and winning the jersey. The other American women, including my sister, Crystal Anthony, have the potential to stack the top-10, and I wouldn’t count out a top-five ride from any of them.
On the guys’ side, Jeremy Powers has shown some uncharacteristically strong late-season form, and I know he’s fired up for a good World Championship performance. Jonathan Page also knows how to bring the noise on the big day, and he seems to be very focused on re-starting his season fresh for this weekend. Sometimes fighting through a lot of issues during a season and focusing only on one day of racing can bring out an incredible performance. Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon have a good chance of landing in the top-20.