Nys, Wellens, Aernouts, Klaas, Albert in Belgian championships © Garry Ceuppens

Nys, Wellens, Aernouts, Klaas, Albert in Belgian championships © Garry Ceuppens

World Cup competitor Christine Vardaros checks in with four of the top favorites for tomorrow’s Elite World Championship races. Sven Nys, Marianne Vos, Daphny van den Brand and Sanne van Paassen give their last minute updates and predictions for the races.  Find complete coverage, photos, reports and replay our live coverage from Saturday and Sunday in our 2010 Tabor Cyclocross Worlds Coverage Center.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)

Sven Nys is the favorite going into World Championships, thanks to the course conditions coupled with his top form. (Czech champion Zdenek Stybar – Telenet-Fidea is the second favorite.) With all focus on Worlds, Nys basically used the last couple of World Cups as part of his overload training. This is why we saw him sit up in the middle of Hoogerheide last weekend while riding in second position, on the wheel of current World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

When asked of his special preparations for Worlds, Nys tells Cyclocross Magazine, “I have a good condition for the moment and I try to hold it. I did the World Cup races in the weekends before, trained on the road and did some speed training behind the motorbike.” Regarding the course, Nys adds, “It’s almost like the Belgian championships, because in Tabor we also have snow and ice. The only difference is that here there is [Zdenek] Stybar, who is really good for the moment. He has good technique on the bike. It’s going to be tough, but when there is snow and ice, I have a chance to win again the World Championships.”

Sven Nys, foot out in the snow in Belgian champs © Garry Ceuppens

Sven Nys, foot out in the snow in Belgian champs © Garry Ceuppens

In last year’s World Championships, we witnessed something special that has rarely been seen – the Belgians joined forces to win the title. Nys is not so sure we will see a repeat of that bonding. “I think this year is different, because last year there was a plan. Not that Niels [Albert] must win the race or another guy [from Belgium]. We had one team. If there is a rider from Belgium who goes in the breakaway, we try to block the rest. When Niels attacked, I was the first one to hold my legs still and to try to go with Stybar – behind him. I think there was a plan and Niels was the strongest.”

“But now the race in Tabor is totally different, because Lars Boom was saying every day last year that the only thing he wants to do is be world champion in Hoogerheide, and that he is going to beat the Belgian guys,” said Nys. “So, of course we tried to beat him. But with Stybar, he never talks about the World Championships. He’s more easy. He will try to win but he is a different personality;  he’s more humble. Now, of course we want again for a Belgian guy to win, but it can be more as an individual.”

Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit)

Holland Nationals 2010 Women's podium © Anton Vos

Holland Nationals 2010 Women's podium © Anton Vos

On the women’s side, current World Champion Marianne Vos is one of the pre-race favorites. Unlike Nys, Vos is not certain that the course suits her strengths. “I need a race where I can use my power and speed, but on ice it’s difficult,” said Vos. “Normally in the winter we have no snow. But this year we have had it several times in Europe. We trained in it, and it felt pretty good, but I don’t think it’s the best underground for me.”

When asked who she thinks will be joining her on the podium, she named Daphny van Den Brand and Katie Compton (Planet Bike), adding that two other possibilities are Hanka Kupfernagel (Itera-Stevens) and Sanne Van Paassen.

As for the pressure of defending her jersey, Vos bears her humility, “I think of course I’m going to be nervous. I just think it’s great to do a World Championships. Every time I’m at Worlds I think – wow, it’s great to be here. To be with so many people at such a great race – that motivates me. Defending the title doesn’t give me any extra pressure.”

Daphy van den Brand (

Van Den Brand settled for second on the day, but took the overall World Cup title. © Bart Hazen

Van Den Brand settled for second in Hoogerheide, but took the overall World Cup title. © Bart Hazen

Van den Brand is another pre-race favorite. “While it’s nice to have the national jersey back for the 11th time, I hope to change it in Tabor. The last weeks are going fine. Maybe Katie is going better. When the fitness is good, the course doesn’t matter,” explains van den Brand, adding, “But I like the mud more, where you can do your own race, and the girl with the best condition wins. When its fast, then the riders who are not the best can win.”

As for the podium, Van den Brand agrees with Vos’ podium prediction, that the two of them will be joined by Compton. “I think we are the strongest of the year. But a World Championship is different.” She also mentions Kupfernagel, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Vienne Futuroscope) and US-based Czech Champion Katerina Nash (LUNA.)

Sanne van Paassen (

Sanne van Paassen was second in the Dutch sweep of the final World Cup podium. © Bart Hazen

Sanne Van Paassen was second in the Dutch sweep of the final World Cup podium. © Bart Hazen

Unlike her countrymates, van Paassen has more modest ambitions as she is newer to the sport. Even with her fourth place at World Championships last year, van Paassen says, “I am happy when I’m in the top five. Maybe on a good day, I’m on the podium.” Jokingly, she adds, “I hope to win, although I think it’s not realistic. But if everyone crashes due to the icy conditions, I win!” Next year she hopes to be consistently at the same level of Vos and Van den Brand, but is unsure if it will come that quickly. Van Paassen explains, “At the moment I am studying as well and it takes a lot of time. In two years, I am finished with my studies and can focus all my time on cyclocross. When I do that I think I am going to be much better and grow more.”