With World Champion Zdenek Stybar out with injury, the hometown favorites at the 2015 World Cyclocross Championship will have to fight their way through the fields if they want a chance at first. We present to you some of our favorite contenders for the Men’s Elite Race, with a quick look at all the American racers as well as some international riders to look out for. The weather shows that snow will be likely before and during the Women’s and Junior races on Saturday. Only time will tell how much of that will factor into Sunday’s U23 and Men’s races.

Also, don’t miss our Women’s Elite Race Preview for Tabor.

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The Favorites: Kevin Pauwels

Kevin Pauwels dropped the chase group to pass van der Poel and finish second. 2014 Koksijde UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Elite Men. © Bart Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Kevin Pauwels dropped the chase group to pass van der Poel and finish second. 2014 Koksijde UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Elite Men. © Bart Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

With the World Champion out, Kevin Pauwels will get to take his choice of spots on the start grid. Although he might not be as flashy as the some of the young guns coming to town (especially Mathieu van der Poel, who literally flashes his tricks while racing), he knows how to fight near the lead at big stage events. Don’t forget that while Stybar and Sven Nys were having an epic battle at the 2014 World Championship race, Pauwels was quietly working his way through the field, overtaking Lars van der Haar for third.

Consider this: When Pauwels came to Hoogerheide for the World Cup, the only way he could have gotten dethroned in the overall standings was if he dropped out and Van der Haar took first place, neither of which happened. Also before Hoogerheide, his worst placing at a World Cup stage was second. He was able to take first at both Milton Keynes and Namur.

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