With yesterday’s GP De Ster, a C2 race in Sint Niklaas, Belgium’s Christmas Week has begun. With eight races – including two World Cups, three GVAs and one Superprestige – a host of American Elite, U23 and Juniors landing in lion country, and the forecast calling for a whole lot of rain, the next thirteen days are so stacked with epic racing that we can barely contain ourselves. Are you ready for Europe’s Holy Week of ’Cross?

Marriane Vos, who won at Namur last year, will be returning to defend her title © Bart Hazen

Marriane Vos, who won at Namur last year, will be returning to defend her title © Bart Hazen

There’s a lot on the line in the coming week of racing: the women will see the return of Marianne Vos at Namur, and the men, possibly, of Stybar in Essen; Jeremy Powers will be leading a select group of American elite men as they seek to test themselves against the Europeans and grab as many points as they can; the boys of EuroCross camp, including Logan Owen and Justin Lindine, will cram as much racing wisdom as they can into the short time span; and all racers will be using the thick racing as a build up to the National and World Championships that come in the following month. Can Nys hold his incredible form? Will Albert find that extra five percent he says he’s been missing? Will Pauwels find his luck? Will Compton be able to hold off Vos? Will Powers earn enough points to make his goal of a front row start at worlds? We can’t wait to find out!

Yesterday’s race at GP De Ster saw the return of Nys to the top of the podium after missing out last weekend at Leuven, with the Belgian champion striking at the last moment to slip ahead of Niels Albert and Tom Meeusen to secure the win. Francis Mourey, Philip Walsleben, and Rob Peeters rolled in only a few short seconds after in what was a tightly contested race. Lars Boom made an appearance, as well, but proved a bit rusty from his time away from the cyclocross bike, coming in at 13th place.

It was a good mid-week test for the racers, who have a stacked weekend with the C1 GVA Trofee Rouwmoer, in Essen, on Saturday and the World Cup Namur on Sunday. Last year, at snowy, freezing,  muddy Namur, Sven Nys beat a resurgent Niels Albert in the final few hundred meters to take the race.  Nys recovered from two flat tires to take the win, making his victory even more impressive. In the women’s event, Marianne Vos escaped on the first lap and never relinquished her lead, taking the win ahead of Lucie-Chainel Lefevre and Katie Compton, who suffered early race mechanicals.

We’ll have nearly constant contact with our racers at EuroCrossCamp, so keep checking back for race reports, rider journals, photos and videos from our juniors, U23s and elites overseas for the holidays.

Also, be sure to check back in frequently, as we’ll have race reports pouring in from the most exciting week of racing on the European calendar!

2012 Christmas Week Race Schedule

19.12.12GP De SterSint-NiklaasBELC2
22.12.12GVA Trofee - GP RouwmoerEssenBELC1
23.12.12Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World CupNamurBELCDM
26.12.12Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World CupHeusden-ZolderBELCDM
28.12.12GVA Trofee - Azencross / Cross des asLoenhout / WuustwezelBELC1
29.12.12Versluys cyclocross BredeneBredeneBELC2
30.12.12Superprestige DiegemDiegemBELC1
1.1.13GVA Trofee - G.P. Sven NysBaal (Tremelo)BELC1