Zdenek Stybar won three World Cups and the overall title this season. © Bart Hazen

Zdenek Stybar won three World Cups and the overall title this season. © Bart Hazen

The Belgian Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team together with the municipality of Zonhoven held a press conference on Monday to announce the details for the GP Telenet, part of the Superprestige Series to be held on February 7th. The discussion was led by Telenet-Fidea Manager Hans van Kasteren and after the course from the upcoming race was introduced riders were available to the press to discuss the upcoming World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic on January 30-31.  Cyclocross Magazine contributor Bart Hazen was there to get the latest on the Telenet-Fidea riders as they make their final preparations for Worlds.

GP Telenet
The GP Telenet is in its first year as part of the Nissan Superprestige Series and it’s also the first Superprestige race in the province Limburg in 27 years. The race on February 7 has a very selective course of 2.7 km on the Molenheide domain with sand, grass, mud, climbs and technical sections. All facets of cyclocross are integrated into the world-class course.

The races will start in the morning with the beginners followed by the Juniors, U23 and the Elite. The race in Zonhoven is the penultimate race for the Superprestige in which leader Niels Albert and World Cup winner Zdenek Stybar will battle for the lead. The series will end in the Sluitingsprijs, thefinal race of the season, in Oostmalle. The podium ceremonies will be done by a real “miss” namely Miss Benelux 2010, Jessica van Moorleghem.

Stybar first Czech winner of World Cup, Targets Worlds
Zdenek Stybar is the first ever rider from the Czech Republic to win the overall World Cup. Stybar had a very good season this year with the defense of his national title, the win in Tervuren, Hamme-Zogge and Hasselt and the victories in the World Cups of Koksijde, Igorre and Roubaix. Next week Stybar will be in his home country and the top favorite for the World title. Stybar is now focusing on the Worlds race on Sunday, which will be held on the same course where three weeks ago he defended his national title. Until then Stybar will get some needed rest after some intensive training weeks between all the races in the past month. This week Stybar will do two intensive training rides and hold one press conference before the race on Sunday.

Tom Meeusen, overall winner of the U23 World Cup, has proven he's ready for the World Championships in Tabor. © Bart Hazen

Tom Meeusen, overall winner of the U23 World Cup, has proven he's ready for the World Championships in Tabor. © Bart Hazen

Tom Meeusen – The Man To Beat In U23 race
Belgian Tom Meeusen is, as teammate Stybar is, one of the top favorites for the World title, but there is one difference. Despite battling amongst the best pro’s in Europe several times, including Antwerpen and the Belgian National Championships, Meeusen is still aU23 rider. Meeusen, who likely will turn professional next year, had a superb season with his overall win in the U23 World Cup. Meeusen also leads the Gazet van Antwerpen and Superprestige series with two races to go in February. Meeusen’s highlights this season include wins at the GVA races in Hasselt en Loenhout, the Superprestige races in Hamme-Zogge and Gieten and the World Cups of Zolder and Roubaix. But the most remarkable result was his third place at the Belgian nationals, behind star crossers Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout.

Bart Wellens relaxes during the press conference. © Bart Hazen

Bart Wellens relaxes during the press conference. © Bart Hazen

Bart Wellens – The Ups and Downs
Bart Wellen’s season has been one with ups and downs. The season started with the cytomegalo virus that kept him out of competition until the middle of December. Wellens was very tired and the only cure was rest, rest and lots of rest. In the end of October Wellens restarted training rides and it was horrible as he remembered. On November 28, Wellens made his comeback in competition in the World Cup of Koksijde, where reaching the start line was remarkable because he was selected for the World Cup with without any competition in his legs. From then on everything was focused on that one race in the end of January, the Worlds in Tabor – the race which could make up for the downs this season. In the next races the ups and downs continued with some good rides and some bad luck.

The year 2010 didn’t start well as Wellens did not start in Baal and gave up in Tervuren with pain in his back. Mechanical problems hindered Wellens chance at the Belgian Nationals. But Wellens believed his condition was rising and that was confirmed at the World Cup of Roubaix were he rode a fantastic race. Wellens was part of the break with Stybar for about two laps and finished as fifth on the Velodrome. In Zonnebeke a few days later he even finished on the podium but last week in Hoogerheide Wellens had another off-day. The preparations for Tabor hasn’t been ideal but the Belgian still has hopes for a good ride on the snowy and icy course in the Czech-Republic.

Kevin Pauwels only victory this season was a good one at the Zolder World Cup. © Bart Hazen

Kevin Pauwels only victory this season was a good one at the Zolder World Cup. © Bart Hazen

Pauwels outsider for the world title
Another member of the Telenet-Fidea team considered an outsider for the World title in Tabor is Kevin Pauwels. The Belgian won only one race so far this season, but it was the World Cup in Zolder on Boxing day. Pauwels finished almost every week in the top five with fourth places in the World Cup of Plzen and Nommay, third in Hoogerheide and good results in the races of the Gazet van Antwerpen and the Superprestige. While not at the top of many supporters lists, Pauwels is the best of the rest behind the fabulous three Zdenek Stybar, Niels Albert and Sven Nys.

The full Telenet-Fidea line-up for the Worlds will be:

Elite
Zdenek Stybar (Czech-Republic)
Petr Dlask (Czech-Republic)
Bart Wellens (Belgium)
Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)

U23
Tom Meeusen (Belgium)
Vincent Baestaens (Belgium)
Robert Gavenda (Slovakia)
Karel Hnik (Czech-Republic)
Corné van Kessel (The Netherlands)
Kacper Szczepaniak (Poland)

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