fter weeks of having a busy weekend schedule, international cyclocross is taking a bit of an after-thanksgiving break, only offering up one major race this weekend. While those of us in America are recovering from too much turkey and stuffing, rather than racing in major UCI ranked races, the Europeans have a World Cup event that they have to swallow. This weekend’s World Cup takes place in Koksijde, Belgium, Also taking place this weekend is the next Superprestige stop, this time in Gieten, Holland. It will no doubt leave many craving more, as a the action will be missing a few key players.

World Cup Men

Notably absent from this weekend’s proceedings are World Champion Lars Boom, who is still recovering from an apparantly nasty urinary tract infection that has kept him off the bike recently, and Niels Albert, who is spending some major time off the bike with a ruptured spleen. Unfortunately, that makes up the backbone of many teams.

So who will be there? Well a good bet for victory this weekend will be Sven Nys. He’s been tearing everything up regardless of who’s there to challenge him, and with the absence of his major competition, he’ll have that much easier of a time taking care of business. Bart Wellens, who has been coming strongly onto form of late, will also be there to give Nys a hard time at victory and has more than a legitimate shot, after proving that he is one of the few in the pack that can hold on to Nys. Another Belgian, Erwin Vervecken, could also feature prominently as his return to form has not gone unnoticed.

The Dutch will rely on Thijs Al to pick up where Boom left off, which is no small task. He will also have Richard Groenendaal and Geren de Knegt to help him along but they will be no match for the mighty Belgian Steamroller, with or without Albert. Alongside Nys, Vervecken and Wellens will be Bart Aernouts, Kevin Pauwels, Rob Peeters, Klaas Vantornout and Sven Vanthourenhout. All of those riders are capable of a top ten finish on a good day. Even on a bad day some of those guys can take home a podium spot.

For the Americans, only Jonathan Page will be flying the red white and blue. Zdenek Stybar, Radomir Simunek and Petr Dlask will be there representing the Czech Republic. Marco Bianco and Marco Aurelio Fontana will lead the Italian charge.

World Cup Women

Hanka Kupfernagel will finally be back in action for this weekend’s world cup. She will be the odds on favorite for victory after skipping a couple weeks, both due to a light calendar and the light wallet of some race promoters. Gunning for her top spot on the podium will be American Katie Compton, who has been one of the hottest racers on the scene of late. Also coming out of the states will be Christine Vardaros, Deidre Winfield and Laura Van Gilder (who really has taken to this cross thing apparantly).

The Dutch powerhouse will be led by Daphny Van den Brand, who is always in the mix for a podium finish. Also supporting the Dutch cause will be Saskia Elemans, Sanne Van Paassen, Linda Van Rijen, Arenda Grimberg, Reza Hormes-Ravenetijn and Abke Francissen. Another powerhouse, the France, will be led into battle by Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, who proved she was the strongest Frenchwoman at last weekend’s Challenge France. She’ll be helped along by Maryline Salvetat, Nadia Triquet Claude and Caroline Mani. The Belgians will bring along Veerle Ingels and Sanne Cant. Cant has been on good form lately and will look to get a high placing this weekend.

See our next report for Sunday’s Superprestige Preview.

My Choices: Sven Nys, Erwin Vervecken, Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels, Radomir Simunek, Jonathan Page, Hanka Kupfernagel, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, Katie Compton, Saskia Elemans, Sanne Cant