The Cauberg hill just south of downtown Valkenburg in the Dutch province of Limburg is no stranger to cycling. The venue has hosted a UCI World Cup since 2013, and the Cauberg serves as the famed final climb of the Amstel Gold Classic held in the Netherlands each year.
Not surprisingly, the course features several climbs, run-ups and descents and is technically challenging when the weather is dry. Previous World Cups serve as a guide of what to expect, but based on the course maps, this year’s layout from Adrie van der Poel is a bit different than last season’s parcours.
With the hilly layout, the course is said to be good for the “mountain bike-sters.” The replays of the 2016 Women’s and Men’s World Cups held in Valkenburg provide an idea of what to expect from the venue, although based on photos from Thursday’s pre-ride, the amount of mud will be infinitely greater.
Sven Nys Course Preview
Sven Nys did a course preview with sporza.be (Dutch) (translated) that includes some video clips of him tackling some of the course’s technical sections. The Dutch version has an embed of the video. The video also includes a helpful course map that features Sven’s head.
In the article, translated Sven talks about the numerous descents and tire choices.
“It is a poker bluff when Niels Albert says he has something to come up with for these kind of strips. You have to drive around with a rough profile, but you should not exaggerate it, because there are also strips where you lose too much time with a rough profile.”
“At the pros, this is always in favor of Mathieu van de Poel, not only because of the downhill, but especially because it is technical, I especially like the mountain bikers in the women, and I think of Ferrand-Prévot and Nash. Although Sanne Cant can also work here.”
He also discusses the run-up.
The second technical stretch of the climb is a wall that the riders must ride. “This is really heavy, and you can bridge a huge height in a short time.”
“If it is dry, you can still cycle halfway up the slope, but that is not the case at the moment. This is a crucial point on the course in terms of physical exertion, which is cross at its worst, and once the finale has erupted, this is the start of the last effort.”
At the close of the article, Nys makes his picks for our 2018 World Championships Fantasy Cyclocross contest.
“This is a course that does not lie, and without mechanical breakdown, the most complete rider of the season will win here, and that is Mathieu van der Poel.”
“Of course, Van Aert can handle this as well, I put him in second place, after which I think of Toon Aerts, who I think performs a little better than Laurens Sweeck.”
“With the women I think this is cut for the mountain bikers, so I think of Nash and Ferrand-Prévot. With the promises, I am really looking forward to the fight between Pidcock and Iserbyt, riders who are close to each other in terms of explosiveness and stature.”
Thursday Course Inspection
Team USA was at the Cauberg for a pre-ride on Thursday. Tar Heel State resident and graphic arts pro Kerry Werner provided a look at the course from the bars of his bike.
In the second video, he gives a course report. “This course never relents. One feature after the other. Off-camber, deep rut, slick uphill, run-up, stairs, fly-over, etc. There is a little bit of everything.”
Australia’s Stacey Riedel was also out at the course. Her video shows some of the muddy descents the riders will face this weekend.
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First look at the course today! An insane, technical, slippery, mud-fest of a course which made me cry for the first time this trip (the last two years, almost every course did that to me). I felt like a fish out of water, or someone who was riding a bike for the first time. I felt like it was out of my ability to ride many of the sections of the course, but what I didn’t take note of was that it was the very first time I had seen it, the first lap I had ridden. How could I possibly know which lines to take or which gear to be in? I was feeling overwhelmed, and like I shouldn’t be there. Like the only person on the course who didn’t know how to ride a bike. But that’s not true. If you look at the videos of the course, everyone is slipping and crashing – even the best riders in the world. And by the end of this course practice, I had a massive smile on my face. I taught myself to ride ruts, and took some great, smooth lines, but most of all, I was having so much fun. I’m really proud of myself for battling my own mind and giving it a go, when sometimes I just feel like crying and going home. I can’t wait to get out there for another course practice tomorrow, ready for race day on Saturday! No matter what happens, I get to race with the best riders in the world, on a world-class course, with enormous crowds, and I’m going to damn-well enjoy it. #focusbikes #cxminded #womeninsport #worldchamps #wkvalkenburg #limburg2018 #cyclocross #slippery #gopro
Finally, the Belgian team was out a few days ago ripping the already muddy course. If you watch through the end, this video also includes Wout van Aert turning himself into an unexpected barrier.
Schedule and More
Racing in Valkenburg starts on Saturday at 5 a.m. Eastern with the Junior Men. The full schedule is below. Stay tuned as we continue to provide more coverage of the 2018 Cyclocross World Championships.
2018 UCI Cyclocross World Championships Schedule - Valkenburg - Limburg, The Netherlands
|Day||Local time||USA EST Time||Event|
|Saturday||11:00AM||5:00AM||2018 UCI Men Juniors Cyclo-cross World Championships|
|Saturday||1:00PM||7:00AM||2018 UCI Women Under 23 Cyclo-cross World Championships|
|Saturday||3:00PM||9:00AM||2018 UCI Women Elite Cyclo-cross World Championships|
|Sunday||11:00AM||5:00AM||2018 UCI Men Under 23 Cyclo-cross World Championships|
|Sunday||3:00PM||9:00AM||2018 UCI Men Elite Cyclo-cross World Championships|
Brandon Grant contributed to this report.