Here we go, the full-on Christmas cross season starts tomorrow, December 26 with the Heusden-Zolder World Cup, the 6th race in the UCI Patrick Cyclo-cross World Cup series. It is followed the next day by the Superprestige Diegem, an evening race and after one day of rest the GVA Trofee – Azencross in Loenhout. And then we repeat again, 2 days on and one day off and again.
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For the third year in a row, a World Cup race is held at the Zolder race track in Belgium. Two changes this year, the first one, a major one, is simply the weather with thick snow is reported all over the course. And race day should be partly cloudy with highs around freezing. The second one are changes to the course in order to make it slower, turns and downhill sections were added to last year’s loop.
After 5 races, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) leads the World Standings with 350 points followed by Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) at 49 points down and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) at 51 points down. Sitting in fourth spot, Francis Mourey (FDJ) will not be racing and neither will World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) who will return to racing on Monday’s race in Diegem. Stybar has been suffering from a knee problem for the past weeks. Previous winners Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) and Thijs Al will also be present.
Representing the USA will be Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) looking for a good result for this season, Ryan Trebon (Kona), Brian Matter (Gear Grinder), Mark LaLonde (Specialized), Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com), Sean Babcok (Kona), Ryan Iddings (Redline) and Mitchell Hoke (Cliff Bar). Three Canadians, Craig Richey (cyclocrossracing.com), Shaun Adamson (Cycle-Smart) and Mike Garrigan will also be lining up. The Elite men start at 3pm CET (7am PT)
Tight race in the Elite Women with Sanne van Paassen holding a slim 5-point lead on Katie Compton (Planet Bike). Compton has been on a roll, winning the last two World Cups in Kalmthout and Koksijde and has to be the favorite into the race. In third place sits Daphny van den Brand at 35 points from the leader. Another one to watch is Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) who finished 2nd in Kalmthout after a last row start, she is definitely on form. Joining Compton for the USA will be Meredith Miller (CalGiant), Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru), Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven) and Christine Vardaros. The Elite Women start at 1:30 pm CET (4:30am PT)
The juniors and U23 will also be racing at Zolder at 10 am CET (1am PT) and 11:10am CET (2:10am PT) respectively. Five Americans lining up in the U23 race include US National champion Danny Summerhill, Zach McDonald, Jerome Townsend, Chris Hurst and Cody Kaiser. It will be Kaiser’s first World Cup as a U23 rider as he finally received his bikes which were lost in transit. The five juniors for the USA will be Bjorn Fox, Cypress Gorry, Zane Godby, Drew Dillman and Gunnar Bergey. All the American U23 and junior riders are staying at the EuroCrossCamp. Also in the juniors race are German National Yannick Eckmann, also at EuroCrossCamp and Canadian Karl Hoppner.
Complete startlists available on uci.ch