After a month’s hiatus the UCI Cyclocross World Cup is once again in the minds of the ‘cross toppers. The citadel of Namur provides a stunning backdrop to one of the toughest courses on the calendar and riders will be wary of the numerous steep upward and downward sections as they wind their way through the muddy forest and around the imposing stronghold.
Since winning the previous round at Koksijde, Sanne Cant has had mixed fortunes. She was in irresistible form post-Koksijde, winning several races in a row, but a crash at the Druivencross, resulting in injuries to her ribs, has kept her off the bike. She missed the recent races at Zilvermeer and Spa. Cant’s absence allowed Jolien Verschuren the opportunity to pick up a hard-fought win at the silver lake, keeping the Dutch duo of Stultiens and Van Passen on the 2nd and 3rd steps on the podium. The following day’s Superprestige round at the F1 track, was a different affair. The resurgent Brit Helen Wyman won ahead of her compatriot Nikki Harris while Van Paassen once again finished in third & Verschuren in 5th. ***
Cant returned to the weekend’s racing at the including a round of the BPostbank Trofee on Saturday. We will see if Cant races and has the necessary sharpness to compete with the likes of Wyman & Harris, plus former winners from 2014 Katerina Nash and 2012/13, Katie Compton
***Update- despite the layoff Can’t won the Scheldecross on Saturday ahead of Helen Wyman and a slowly improving Sophie de Boer. I guess that answers any questions about Cant’s form!***
You may recall a weekend of back-to-back victories for Sven Nijs at Hasselt and Koksijde, toward the end of November. Well, the Van Aert-ful Dodger has since won victories at Hamme, Essen, Zilvermeer & Mol: normal service has been resumed. Matthieu van der Poel managed a win at the Druivencross in Overijse in between Van Aert’s strong run of results, but the young Belgian did not ride the Grapes cross. VDP is regaining fitness and will continue to push Van Aert and Nijs hard. Kevin Pauwels won here twice in the last three years and will also look to get in on the action, as will 2013 winner Francis Mourey, if he starts. An interesting addition to the line-up was former CX World Champion and road-racer Lars Boom, who had been selected to race by the Dutch team manager. Boom had to make a late withdrawal and will not race this weekend. It will be interesting to see how if he manages to ride ‘cross this season, and how he fares against the current crop of ‘cross stars. Boom’s fellow countryman and name-sake Lars van der Haar will be looking to try and get some decent results over this weekend, so keep an eye out for him.
Sunday will be a tough day in the saddle for everyone and should provide some excellent racing. Make sure you tune in to the UCI channel in time for both races. In the meantime click for the women’s and men’s races from 2014.