Niels Albert

Niels Albert File Photo © Bart Hazen

by Kat Statman

Another week and another round of Rumors about pro ’crossers around the world. With this week being the National Championship week for most of the major cyclocross hotbed countries, many are looking towards the big days in Belgium and the Netherlands. But there is some non-National Championship news also. The win leaderboard for the 2010/2011 season is heating up with Nys at the front; Stybar and Quickstep have still not signed anything; and Simunek is healing up and will be ready to roll again soon.

National Championships Commence This Weekend Around the WorldThe rest of the world is heading to their respective National Championships this weekend. Christine Vardaros has taken the time to talk with and write up excellent previews for the Dutch National Championships Elite Men and Elite Women as well as for the Belgian Men’s National Championships. Expect tough battles in these three events with many riders poised to take home the title of national champion.

My personal picks for the Dutch National Championship contests are for Vos to take a commanding victory in the Women’s race. She was the only rider close to Katie Compton’s level the past week in the World Cup, and with Compton being, arguably, the fastest woman ’crosser in the world right now, that puts Vos a step above van den Brand. For the men, usually I would put my money on Boom, and I might still pick him, but his recent back injury is worrisome. Then again, he’ll likely be motivated by a desire to end his 2010/2011 ’cross campaign with a bang and take home another Dutch jersey!
Everyone is anxiously anticipating the Belgian men’s race this Sunday, especially the expected battle between Nys and Albert. Many are picking Albert for the win, especially after his dominant Christmas week. But my money is still on Nys. Age and experience are something that Nys brings to the table, something more indispensable than a quicker snap and a bit more speed.
Other important races happening this weekend are the Czech Men’s National Championships – the women’s event has already been contested, and Katerina Nash has once again defended. Look for Stybar to ride away from the field and hold on to the national colors, especially with Simunek being out of the picture with a broken collarbone.

In England Helen Wyman, who has had her best season to date, taking important wins at Koppenbergcross and Jaarmaarktcross, is set to defend. But expect stiff competition from Gabby Day and Nikki Harris.

In Germany both Hanka Kupfernagel and Phillipp Walsleben are looking to defend their respective titles. Both Kupfernagel and Walsleben have been having stellar seasons. Kupfernagel took another win for the year at Tervuren against a stellar field. Walsleben, though not showing the kind of form or results that his team leader, Albert, has shown the past week is still riding strong at the front. He has consistently finished in the top 10 this season at all of the major competitions.

Nys Tops the Win Leaderboard, Closely Followed by the American Contingent

Sven Nys tops the cyclocross leaderboard with 11 wins, but Powers is not far behind, tied for second with Francis Mourey at 10 wins this year. Tied for fourth are Zdenek Stybar and Tim Johnson with nine wins.
There’s a lot to take away from these numbers. First, Nys has clearly been the most dominant ’crosser this year, even though he was not the most dominant rider over the Christmas week. Even at 34 years of age, he’s the king of ’cross. Expect to see him at the front for years to come, my friends. We can also see on the American homefront something that’s not surprising: Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson had a recipe for success for the majority of the season, relegating everyone else in the American field to playing catch-up.
As we enter the final push of the season, we’ll keep a tab on these numbers and see how they stack up. Can Albert add some big victories and get up and over the 10 race wins threshold? Or will Stybar return to his early season dominance over January and February and take the lead away from Nys? Then again, Nys is tough and is always fighting for that win regardless of what is thrown his way; that’s why he is the Kaanibaal van Baal.

Simunek is one tough cookie

Radomir Simunek, though not able to participate in this week’s Czech National Championships, will be back in time for the Hoogerheide World Cup on January 23rd. Simunek has been a major factor at the front of the races this year, taking a hard fought wins at Scheldecross and Velka Cena Mesta Tabora, both C1 races against the best in the world.

Stybar and Quick Step not 100%, Yet

The Stybar and Quick Step deal is still not imminent. Recent interviews with Patrick Lefevre have displayed that, though Lefevre thinks Stybar would be a valuable asset to the Quick Step team and a good athlete from a press standpoint, he is clearly not prepared to give any more money or go through a protracted battle with Stybar’s current Telenet–Fidea team. Lefevre has been quoted in the press that he will not pay out Stybar’s contract, and that anything that might happen between Stybar and Quick Step is up to Telenet–Fidea at this point. If Stybar does not leave Telenet–Fidea at the end of the season after these long and stressful negotiations, will this sour his relationship with his current team? Will he continue to look for a different program? Maybe he’ll take a shot with Landbouwkrediet with Nys? Now that would be an all-star ’cross squad