by Evan Schmitt
The third stop on the UCI World Cup returns to Koksijde on the North Sea coast of Belgium on Saturday, November 26. The 2.8km circuit takes place on the grounds of the Koksijde Military Base. With riders fresh off the double race weekend in Gavere and Hasselt, the race is sure to be a showdown between the top guns on the European circuit. Riders will pay extra attention to the conditions in Koksijde as they will be the host for the 2012 UCI Cyclocross World Championships.
Expect early action between Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) but don’t count out a challenge from Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor), who won the second round of the World Cup in Tabor last month. Also look for the American contingent of Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) to put in solid performances. Powers won both days at the Louisville stop on the USGP just two weeks ago. Last year, Niels Albert (BCKP-Powerplus) won the men’s race in Koksijde but was sidelined with a broken wrist sustained in a car collision on a training ride on November 15.
On the women’s side, last year’s winner American Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) comes back to the European dirt after a sweep of the USGP weekend in Kentucky. She will face a hard challenge from Daphny van den Brand (AA drink-Leontien.nl), who won the race two weeks ago in Hamme-Zogge and German National Champion Hanka Kupfernagel. Current World Champion Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) will be starting her 2011 cyclocross season. Americans Amy Dombroski (Crank Brothers), Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) and Christine Vardaros (BABOCO Cycling Team) will also be looking to capitalize on their good form in Koksijde.
In the U23 Men’s race, current World Champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) will headline the field. Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross) and Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant) will comprise the American contingent and Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill) will be the lone American in the junior men’s race.
At the end of January next year, the riders will return to Koksijde with their national teams to race for the world title.
Check out the video of the final two laps from the 2010 Koksijde World Cup: