Zach McDonald rides away from the field to take his first U23 title. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Zach McDonald will be on the hunt for a top-10 finish at Worlds. © Cyclocross Magazine

by Evan Schmitt

The commentators for this weekend’s World Championships will sound like they are speaking in a foreign language. That’s because they really are. But have no fear because we’re here to tell you who to look for so that you don’t need to hire a translator to watch the U23 and Junior Men’s races this Saturday.

Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant) has been unstoppable this year, winning the World Cup U23 series and CrossVegas, the latter of which had an Elite field including Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters. Expect nothing less than perfection from the reigning U23 world champion on the course in Koksijde.

Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms) will be looking for a strong ride in Koksijde. © Tim Westmore

Americans Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) and Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant) will be looking for solid top-10 finishes. McDonald put up an impressive fourth-place performance in the Elite National Championship race in Madison, only one day after running away with the U23 National Title. He also slipped on the podium for third place at the race in Zolder, which was a World Cup for the Elite men and women, but not for the Juniors or U23 racers. Kaiser posted top-five finishes at the CrossAfterDark Spooky Cross finale and the second day of CXLA, and he was second at Nationals in Madison.

Seven in a row: Logan Owen (Redline) wins the Junior Men 17-18 in his first try. © Tim Westmore

Logan Owen will be looking for gold on his first go at Junior Worlds. © Tim Westmore

Dominic Zumstein (Sui) and Silvio Herklotz (Ger) are the top returning junior racers from the 2011 World Championships in Saint Wendel, with their seventh and eighth places in German.  Don’t overlook Japan’s Toki Sawada, who sat in the top ten for much of last year’s race before finishing in 16th.

The Americans bring a strong squad to the Junior Men’s race in Koksijde. Despite this being his first year of eligibility in the 17-18age group, national champion Logan Owen (Redline) will be the front runnerfor the US. Owen won the overall in the USGP series and the national title in Madison. He also posted a top-five finish at the race in Zolder.

Andrew Dillman - Junior men's 17-18 race, 2012 Cyclocross National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine

Andrew Dillman will be riding for a solid top-10 finish. © Cyclocross Magazine

Drew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill) will also be a factor as he won both USGP races in Louisville this year and was fourth in Madison. Dillman was sixth at Zolder.

Cypress Gorry (Whole Athlete-Specialized) will be looking for a strong ride after a third place finish in Madison and with a Euro Cross Camp under his belt.

Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant) and Curtis White (Clif Bar) round out the team. Ortenblad was second at Nationals in Madison and was on the podium at four of the USGP races in 2011. White was fifth at Nationals in Madison, a podium finisher in both days of the USGP Derby City Cup and he posted an 11th place finish at Zolder.

And don’t forget, we’ve got live coverage of the 2012 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium, on January 29, 2012 with live blogging of the Elite Women’s and Elite Men’s races. Races are at 11am and 3pm Belgian time, which is an early 5am EST and 9am EST. Join us as we give you live, interactive updates of the racing, complete with updates of the American racers we’ll be getting from on-the-ground reporters (as well as technology allows). It’s the perfect way to start your Sunday morning, and complements any live video feed you might find.