Before we get started, a special 18th birthday shout out to my little brother. Now on to Cyclocross! Simon Zahner takes home a big stage race win, Bjorn Selander takes home 14th, Thijs Al cracks the top 10, on the road, plus improving results at the Mountain Bike World Cup, and what would R&R be without Marianne Vos?

Simon Zahner win Fleche du Sud, Selander 14th

Following his win out of the day’s main breakaway in the 2nd stage of the Flèche du Sud, a 5 stage (4 road stages + a prologue) race in the heart of Luxembourg, Simon Zahner was able to withstand the assault on his overall lead and cruise home to overall victory. Zahner’s victory in stage two, by three seconds over runner-up Maint Berkenbosch, was able to unseat the leader for the previous two stages, America’s Taylor Phinney. The Swissman Zahner, who had a breakout of sorts at this year’s World Championships, where he finished 9th, was able to cement his overall lead with a 9th place finish on stage 3 and an 8th place finish on stage 4. His cushion on the GC standing was a comfortable 24 seconds.

Despite winning the prologue and holding the leader’s jersey for two days, the top Trek-Livestrong finisher in the race was not Phinney, but cyclocross regular Bjorn Selander, who finished 14th. The young American led the charge for the Trek-Livestrong team, picking up where Phinney had left off. Selander was only 1:24 behind Zahner when the day was over. Also logging their names in the overall standings were many of Europe’s cyclocross regulars. Just behind Selander in 16th place was Fidea’s youngster Kevin Pauwels. Christian Heule stopped the clock only two spots behind Pauwels in 18th place, followed closely by Fidea’s Bart Wellens in 21st. Also inside the top 40 on GC were Fidea’s Zdenek Stybar, Tom Meeusen and Petr Dlask, who finished 32nd, 36th and 40th respectively.

Thijs Al, man of many talents, takes 10th at Olympia’s Tour

In a race dominated by the sprinting prowess of Rabobank’s Theo Bos, Dutchman Thijs Al was having a great week’s worth of racing. Just on the heels of beating Sven Nys at the Benelux Cup Mountain Bike race over the weekend, Al put in some solid performances, finishing 1:02 behind the overall winner, Jetse Bol. Al grabbed 10th in stage 3 and 6th in stage 5 en route to his 10th place overall finish. Other notable finishers of the Olympia’s Tour included Al’s AA Drinks teammate Eddy Van IJzendoorn who finished 58th. Boy Van Poppel, Danny Summerhill and Alex Howes started the race’s final day, but retired before reaching the finish line.

Wells enters the top 20, Sven Nys opens his account, Gould in the top 15 again

Georgia Gould, silver medalist at the US National Championships in December, finished the day as the top American at the latest World Cup Mountain Bike stop in Madrid, Spain, finishing an even 5 minutes behind winner and World Cup Leader Marga Fullana. Eva Lechner, the current Italian Cyclocross Champion, fared best of the cyclocross regulars, finishing in 7th position, at 3:54 behind Fullana. Lechner sits in 7th place in the World Cup standings, while Gould now sits 17th, equating to steadily improving start positions.

Todd Wells was finally able to shake off his string of bad luck, finishing the day in 16th place, staking his claim as the best American finisher in Madrid. Wells was called up 48th, meaning he had a fight on his hands to get to the front of the race. Two DNF’s means that Wells will still be starting the next round of racing in 36th spot, which is significantly better than this weekend, so good results should be in store for Wells.

Despite only taking part in his first World Cup of the season, Sven Nys was able to push his way up through the masses and take home 22nd spot on the day, just over 4 and a half minutes behind the day’s winner, Julien Absalon. After scoring 52 points on the day, Nys can expect a better start position should he chose to take on more World Cup stops in the near future. Other notable cyclocross finishers included Canada’s poster boy and cyclocross champ Geoff Kabush, who finished 34th, as well as Marco Aurelio Fontana, who had the strongest day for the cyclocrossers, finishing just off the podium in 4th place.

More from Marianne Vos… surprised?

Marianne Vos had been putting on quite the show at the Tour de l’Aude, taking home a win in stage 4, as well as rarely being far from the top 10 in any finish. The last few days of the tour were more of the same from the Cyclocross World Champion. Stage 7 saw Vos add another mark to the victory column, winning out of a 3 woman breakaway by 9 seconds over second place. Vos and company managed to get 2:55 over the nearest set of chasers by the time the clocks were stopped. Vos managed to break off back to back wins by pouncing on stage 8, out of another small breakaway, this time made up of 4 women who managed to grab 2:12 over their nearest chasers. Despite only managing 7th place in the 9th and final stage (she missed the breakaway by 30 seconds), Vos was able to take home 3rd place on the overall classification, as well as easily sew up the points classification – by 46 points – and the young rider’s classification – by 14:40. Not a bad week and a half at the office.

Watching closely? Check out the Tour of Belgium

With the spring almost gone, almost all of the who’s who of European cyclocross have already opened up their training seasons. The latest stage race to bring out the big names is the Tour of Belgium, which got underway today. While no one man put his name out in the front (the stage was won on a last second break by Serguei Ivanov), many major players were on their bikes in their first major stage races of the season. Included in the list is the day’s top finisher, Sven Vanthourenhout, who finished 32nd on the day. His Sunweb-Projob teammates Lukas Kloucek (80th), Klaas Vantornout (102nd) and Kenneth Van Compernolle (137th) were there, as well as Dieter Vanthourenhout (91st), Lubomir Petrus (119th), Radomir Simunek Jr. (128th), World Champion Niels Albert (129th) and Philipp Walsleben (134th), representing BKCP-Powerplus. Sven Nys made the trip from Madrid to Tervuren to finish 76th. Lars Boom helped his team leader Graeme Brown to a 2nd place finish, and was rewarded with a 61st in the standings.

Tour of Somerville showcases some Cyclocross Talent

Jake Keough continues to prove himself to be one of the top young domestic sprinters, as well as ‘crossers, sprinting his way to second place in the Tour of Somerville, having been narrowly beaten by Colavita Sprinter Lucas Sebastian Haedo. A number of other cyclocross regulars managed to get some solid finishes in New Jersey, with Adam Myerson finishing 15th and Will Dugan finishing 16th. Jonathan Page was back racing on American soil, taking home 23rd. Colavita team captain Davide Frattini helped his sprinter to the win, and finished 39th.

Wondering what your favorite mudders have been up to?  Doing your homework so you can win Cyclocross Magazine’s fantasy cyclocross league next season? We’ve got you covered with our new, weekly report on your favorite top ‘crossers. Each week Jake Sisson will bring you the latest news, gossip, and maybe even a tweet or two on the pro scene. This is installment #10. Installment #9 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know!