Fantasy Cyclocross Minute and Weekend Outlook – December 5
Well, American Cyclocross fans, this is your last chance to take home any points from your American choices, as after this weekend, the American calendar is over (except for nationals of course). This weekend’s USGP stop in Portland, Oregon is the last American C1 event, meaning that after this weekend, only 20 more points can be made in the states. Day One of the Portland Cup is the weekend’s C1 event, but obviously both races will hold great importance to who will win next weekend’s National Championships (also don’t forget that we’ve got live updates so you can keep track of your fantasy team in Portland. Live updates will be provided on a much grander scale for nationals. Get excited, tell your friends!) The Europeans face a trip to Spain this weekend as they tackle the World Cup stop in Igorre.
Portland Cup Elite Men
Strap in folks, I’m about to get all scientific up in your faces. Now, I’m not gonna go blowing the whole surprise, but I’ve been working long and hard to figure out who will win nationals. Thanks to some bogus number manipulation (statistical inference?), I’ve come up with some pretty good ideas of who will win this weekend’s Portland Cup. So, who will win this thing? Well, the numbers point to Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com). Interestingly, he and Ryan Trebon (Kona) right now are complete equals. If you look at how much Tim has beaten Ryan by, and vice versa, their +/- value is exactly zero. Whether or not that actually means they’re equals, I don’t know, but that sure is pretty cool, especially this late in the season. Be this all as it may, Johnson’s knee injury throws a wrench into the whole system, and I can’t pick him for victory this weekend.
So who will actually win on Saturday? Next to Johnson, the numbers point to Todd Wells (GT Bicycles). Wells has had the best current string of form, if you look at the data, and with the weather not expected to play as big a part as it has in past years, Wells’ case gets that much stronger. Trebon is another strong case for victory, but his recent performances of late have projected him to finish off the winning pace. Do the numbers lie? Probably. Did I ever do anything to offend the numbers, like not call them back after a first date? Not to my knowledge. Come on numbers, pull through for me. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) has been hot of late, with only a 5th place finish at the second day of the Whitmores Landscaping Supercross Cup messing up his projection slightly. I’d say he’s another solid bet to be fighting for the podium
Jamis’ Jesse Anthony will be there hoping to get himself into the mix before nationals. Coming in from lands far away will be CCV – Leopard Cycles’ Danish fastman Joachim Parbo, and returning from his journey to Japan (where surely he was misidentified as Godzilla more than once) will be Barry Wicks (Kona).
Portland Cup Elite Women
Sadly, I haven’t gotten a chance to look at the data for the women as of yet, so their predictions will have to rely on my cobbled together excuse for knowledge. Taking a look at the start list on bikereg.com, a few names jump off the sheet as favorites heading into the weekend. The LUNA duo of Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash has been unstoppable, and wouldnt you know it, you can’t score points for Katerina Nash (haven’t heard that before, have you? Note to self, add Katerina Nash next year). So, Georgia Gould should be your top performer this weekend.
One woman who has proven in the past to be at the level of the front runners is Kona’s Wendy Simms. Simms has had a relatively quiet season this year by her standards, but there’s no time like the present for the current Canadian National Champion to make some waves. Simms is a solid bet for a good performance in Portland. Susan Butler (Monaviecannondale.com) will be another solid choice for a podium finish this weekend. She told me at the Whitmores Landscaping Supercross Cup on day two that the only thing stopping her from challenging for the win was a bent derailleur, that prevented her from accessing the top three cogs of her cassette. Considering the hills and how big the gears she was running were, it’s pretty impressive she pulled out a fourth place finish.
Coming over from the East Coast (represent!) to challenge for the win are MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles rider Maureen Bruno Roy who is looking for a good tuneup before nationals. Following her over is Velo Bella – Kona’s Amy Dombroski who has had an excellent season this year, finishing second in the North American Cyclocross Trophy’s overall standings.
As if you weren’t bored enough, there’s also a World Cup happening this weekend. Lucky for you, the reader, there’s only a Men’s race (what’s the deal, Spain…) so you dont have too much more to read!
World Cup Elite Men
Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) has won this race twice times in a row and shows no signs of slowing down coming into the World Cup stop in Igorre, Spain. Nys was only narrowly beaten by a resurgent Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) at last weekend’s World Cup stop in Koksijde, and finished third on Sunday’s Superprestige stop in Gieten. While Nys has certainly not been infallible, he has been the most consistantly strong rider in the European circuit up to this point in the year. Nys and Vervecken, partnered with Bart Wellens (Fidea) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb – Projob) who won in Gieten, for a formidible top four that the Belgian’s can rely on. Also coming out of Belgium are Kevin Pauwels (Fidea), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank), Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb – Projob) and Rob Peeters (Landbouwkrediet).
Lars Boom (Rabobank) is back in action after missing two weekends with a urinary tract infection. No doubt Boom will not be back to his best, but teams that rely on his points will be happy to get something in return for their trust. While Boom will probably not be fighting for the win after his layoff, he will most likely be in the hunt for a top 10 finish. He is, afterall, the World Champion. The Dutch also have Thijs Al (BeOne), Richard Groenendaal (AA Drinks), Gerben de Knegt (Rabobank) and Wilant Van Gils (ZZPR.nl) to score points.
Zdenek Stybar (Fidea), Radomir Simunek (Palmans – Cras) and Petr Dlask (Fidea) will represent the Czech Republic. Stybar has been coming back to the top of his game recently, featuring heavily in the last lap in Koksijde. Stybar would continue on to finish third on the day, but his attacks on the last lap no doubt softened up Nys enough to allow Vervecken to get the better of him. Stybar completed a quality weekend on Sunday by finishing fifth in Gieten. Francis Mourey (Francaise des Jeux) will hope to have better luck this year than he did last year in Igorre, when a derailleur failure saw him lose his lead of 30 seconds in favor of a four minute deficiet. Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) will be the lone American representative. Hopefully he will put together a good weekend and improve his chances at victory in Kansas City.
Man, if only I could put together 1200 words in an hour for school papers, I’d be golden. Watch out for my by the numbers American Cyclocross Nationals Preview sometime this week, where I will objectively pick the winners of the elite men’s and elite women’s races. Until then, you can make due with this week’s all-star picks.
Sven Nys, Zdenek Stybar, Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels, Todd Wells, Francis Mourey, Georgia Gould, Wendy Simms
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