In one day, the World Cup will leave Continental Europe for the first time in history as it descends upon the town of Milton Keynes. We gave an introduction to the event, as well as a list of amenities and the venue in Issue 26, as well as rider expectations in our Summer’s digital free issue, but the event itself has since put together a course preview (albeit without the fences and course markings), that can be seen below:
The photos are rolling in from our top-level athletes on social media, and we are able to see how the course is shaping up. The most startling is the first turn after the prologue as captured by Meredith Miller on Instagram. This is sure to encourage riders to take the holeshot, especially as the rain continues and the Junior and U23 riders shred through the course and churn up the mud:
Although the course conditions could drastically change with the weather, the course looks like it’s shaping up to the familiar fast, flowy races just like those that are found in the New England area. Paul Mitchell captured a distant shot this morning:
— Paul Mitchell (@PaulMit59) November 27, 2014
In the Women’s Elite Race, no one likely feels the pressure to excel like the British riders. Helen Wyman told Cyclocross Magazine at the onset of the season that this was the event she was looking forward to more than anything. She recently reported that everyone in her extended family will be making the trip out as spectators. Nikki Harris, coming right off her win last Sunday in Superprestige Spa-Francorchamps, will look to build on her success. Gabby Durrin has already been making extensive preparations for the event, including getting her nails ready for the big show:
— Neon Velo (@Neon_Velo) November 27, 2014
Dutch rider Sophie de Boer is currently the only rider able to stand on the podium for the last two stages, taking third both times, which is good enough for being atop the over all standings. She will have plenty of rivals looking to dethrone her, including Koksijde winner Sanne Cant, and Valkenburg winner Katie Compton. Two very large questions come out of this challenge: Can Cant continue her long run of wins in the last six weeks? Has Compton recovered and found her legs at the right time to battle for first?
Compton will be far from the only American with a presence in this third round of the World Cup. The women will be out in full force, with Meredith Miller, Crystal Anthony and Rachel Llyod reentering the fray from their participation in last week’s second round. Arley Kemmerer, who took the 11th spot at Valkenburg and swept last weekend’s NYC UCI races of Supercross, will also look to have a strong showing alongside Kaitlin Antonneau. Christine Vardaros, after missing out on the last two World Cup stages due to the new rule system, has been allowed to participate as an exception. This brings the American participation in the women’s field up to seven riders. Missing from the roster is Elle Anderson, who had a great showing at Valkenburg in fifth place, but had a less successful ride last Saturday.
— Arley Kemmerer (@arleykemm) November 27, 2014
In the Men’s Elite Race, Great Britain will be sending their maximum allowable amount of eight riders. Ranked in the top 25 in the world, Ian Field has the best chance for a good result tomorrow, with the other seven riders likely honored to participate in their home-country’s first World Cup event.
Lars van der Haar, with a win at Valkenburg but having to miss Koksijde because of illness, has dropped to ninth overall in the standings, and will likely be looking to make up on the points he missed out on. Fellow Dutch rider Corne van Kessel has found continued success in the first two stages of the World Cup, and is currently in fourth place overall.
The top three places in the standings are all Belgian, however, with Kevin Pauwels leading the way. Tom Meeusen and Klaas Vantornout join him at the front of the hunt, with Sven Nys having a disappointing showing so far, sitting at 33rd overall.
Just as last week, Jeremy Powers, Johnathan Page, and Jeremy Durrin will represent the United States. Powers found an impressive top ten in the first round at Valkenburg, and currently sits at 11th overall. The course has the appearance similar to that of the KMC Cyclo-Cross Festival in Providence, which bodes well for Powers, who had a dominating performance in the rain during the C1 day, and finished alone ahead of Tim Johnson.
Stay tuned tomorrow morning for videos, reports, and results on cxmagazine.com