Weekend Preview and Fantasy Cyclocross Minute – October 31, 2008

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Jacob Sisson has got another weekend preview and fantasy league outlook. Enjoy!

It’s an action packed couple of days this weekend, as the UCI has put together a set of three C1 races for us to worry about. The action is not just confined to Europe, either, with the United States playing host to some hot racing action. Colorado is the site of this Sunday’s C1 Boulder Cup, which will showcase the top North American talent as they vie for the lead in the North American Cyclocross Trophy series. Saturday’s menu has on tap the Internationale Veldritten op de Koppenberg in Oudenaarde, Belgium. This is my personal favorite event so I will be paying special attention to the outcome of that race. On Sunday, the Superprestige makes its return for its second edition, with this weekend in scenic Veghel-Eerde, Netherlands. The U23 men and Elite Women will be taking part in the Championnats d’Europe in Lievin, France. Although not a C1 event, C1 points will be handed out in the Fantasy competition.

The Boulder Cup

The sixth race in the North American Cyclocross Trophy series is the Boulder Cup in Boulder, Colorado. Top North American Talent will be on display, and the battles in both the Men’s and Women’s fields will be full of suspense. In the men’s field, all of the major players will be represented, with Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll representing the Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com team and Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks squaring off against them representing Kona. Jesse Anthony will look to ride his red hot form into a victory this weekend after a pair of second place finishes last weekend in Louisville. Anthony surely looks to be very dangerous for the rest of the season after a broken wrist forced him off his bike for a significant period in the late summer. If he’s not on top form and still mixing it up with the big boys, it looks like we could be in for big things from the Jamis rider. Also toeing the start line in Boulder will be Jonathan Baker, riding for Vitamin Cottage and Todd Wells, riding for GT Bicycles. Wells had a couple solid performances last weekend and will look to continue his surge.

The women’s race, going on what I have from Bikereg.com’s entered riders list, looks like it will be a contest between Georgia Gould and Amy Dombroski. Gould has been dominating the scene in recent weeks, and Dombroski has been all but unstoppable in New England. Rachel Lloyd will also line up and attempt to play spoiler.

Internationale Veldritten op de Koppenberg

Far and away, this is my favorite race in all of cyclocross. For those of you living under a rock, or on the moon, or having some other illegitimate excuse, the Koppenberg is a sizable hill in Belgium which has influenced many a Ronde van Vlaanderen during the road season. At its steepest, the Koppenberg pitches up at an astounding 22%. The cross race climbs up the same berg, although not entirely to the summit, and favors a rider with some good classic style legs under him. Gee, I wonder who that could be.

The overwhelming favorites coming into this race are Sven Nys and Niels Albert. Each has a world cup to their name, and each has been the only man to keep up with the other consistently this season. Nys has to have the edge in this race because he is a relatively well established road racer and has participated in the Tour of Flanders in the past. He’s won here before and will probably win here again more than once. Albert is certainly a rising star, but it remains to be seen how he will handle the climbs up the Koppenberg at the Elite level. Other road riders could factor prominently in this race because of the Koppenberg, including riders like Enrico Franzoi who are no stranger to the Koppenberg in the road sense.

In the women’s race, it will be hard to bet against Hanka Kupfernagel. She is just about hitting her prime form for the season, and she’s no slouch when it comes to road racing. If anyone will be able to get to her, it will be Daphny Van den Brand. She’s been having a season on par with Kupfernagel, and like Nys and Albert, Van den Brand and Kupfernagel split the season’s two world cups. It was Van den Brand’s show last year, taking home a commanding win over Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn and Veerle Ingels, but Kupfernagel was not at the race and could give her fits this year.

Superprestige Veghel-Eerde

While I would say that Nys will more or less take home the Koppenberg Cross with relative ease, Sunday’s stop on the Superprestige series will be less of an easy walk. Nys will be chased hard by Albert, Rabobank’s Lars Boom, the Sunweb – Projob duo of Klaas Vantornout and Sven Vanthourenhout and Fidea’s Bart Wellens, Zdenek Stybar and Erwin Vervecken. This should be more of a straightforward race than the Koppenberg where I would expect a small group including Nys and Albert to escape and battle away to the end. I gave Nys the nod on Saturday, so I’d say Albert is due in Sunday’s race. Jonathan Page will represent the United States in both day’s races, and will hopefully turn in some good results and bounce back from his performances in the last two World Cups.

Championnats d’Europe

The Elite Women and the Men’s U23 riders, who don’t have a race to participate in at the Superprestige, will instead head to Lievin to race in the Championnats d’Europe. In the U23 race, the season’s battle between Tom Meeusen of Fidea, Philipp Walsleben of Palman-Cras and Lukas Kloucek will net some quality points for anyone owning any of those three. Walsleben has had the best form of late and will be hard to stop.

The Women’s race will probably look something like the Women’s race on Saturday. The race will come down to a fight between Daphny Van den Brand and Hanka Kupfernagel. With the race being held on French soil, however, those two can expect a fight from Frenchwomen such as Maryline Salvetat, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, Caroline Mani and Nadia Triquet-Claude. Pavla Havlikova is also on fire of late, with two third place finishes in two world cups, and will be looking to move up the cyclocross ladder. Watch out for Salvetat and Havlikova to be the two who work their way into the fight for first.

There’s a lot to watch out for this weekend, so everyone be on your toes. Here’s my picks for the weekend, enjoy:

Sven Nys, Zdenek Stybar, Klaas Vantornout, Niels Albert, Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers, Hanka Kupfernagel, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, Pavla Havlikova, Georgia Gould, Wendy Simms

 

 

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