Fantasy Cyclocross Finale Preview – February 21, 2009
By Jake Sisson
So we’ve reached the end of the road. The battles have been hard, and while hope has faded for some teams who got out to a hot start, hope has sprung anew for many teams who got a late start. Our leader heading into the final day, Montanacyclocross.com missed the first week of the competition, but overcame what could have been a 100 plus point deficit and turned it into a 100 plus point lead. So it comes down to one race, for all the glory.
The final smack down comes courtesy of the Internationale Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle in Oostmalle, Belgium. This is the final stop on the GvA trophy circuit, of which the series title has already been sewn up by Belgian Champion Sven Nys. Nys has already added the World Cup title and the Superprestige title to his mantle, and although he is mathematically untouchable in the GvA standings, a win will cement his overall victory in style. Our young World Champion Niels Albert will be looking to win his third straight edition of the race. With victory, Albert will tie Arne Daelemans for the record number of victories in the Oostmalle. Behind Nys in the overall standings, a battle is raging for the final steps of the GvA overall podium. Bart Wellens holds a slim 7 point margin over Fidea teammate Zdenek Stybar for second place in the standings and one slip up by either party could lose them the silver medal (and probably a hefty cash prize).
Dutchman Richard Groenendaal will line up for his final international category one race on Sunday, capping off an historic career. Groenendaal will be sorely missed in the cyclocross peloton but we all know he will find success in whatever he decides to move on to. Groenendaal is a past winner of the Internationale Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle, taking home the 2004 edition, and will surely be looking to launch his last attacks and make them stick. Another interesting story line is that of Klaas Vantornout, who had been generally shunned by the organizers of the GvA trophy this year. The GvA seemed to think that Vantornout was not worth his weight in start money, citing his tendency to race to the top 5 in Superprestiges on Saturdays but fall to the mid teens at the GvA stops on Sunday. The GvA seems to have softened their stance on the Belgian and will pay him to show up on this final Sunday.
Montanacyclocross.com seems to have his competition mostly wrapped up, as it would take quite the surge from any of the 6 chasers within earshot to haul him back. The real excitement will come from the battle for 2nd through 7th positions. The gap between 2nd and 7th is a mere 70 points. Vorm een Team Helikopter holds second with 5159 followed by Bergen FK with 5124, Team Lukas with 5119, Java with 5105, Pedal Sports with 5090 and SAdamson with 5089 points. Any one of those teams could stand on the podium by day’s end and it will be quite the final battle, almost as exciting as the final cross race of the season.