First of all a ‘Happy New Year’ to all you lovely people out there who are reading this- welcome to the first post of 2016 on moto3.
It has been a busy few weeks since my last post. ‘Holy Week’ has been and gone, and we had the small matter of the various national championships being hotly disputed across the northern hemisphere. So there is plenty to talk about in previewing this weekend’s UCI World Cup action. Before that lets have a look at the venue for Sunday’s excitement.
Lignieres-en-Berry has hosted a round of the French Cyclocross Cup and the French National Championships in recent years. This, however, is the first ever UCI CX World Cup round to be held there. The village can lay claim to 1500 souls and is twinned with Dunbar, in Scotland. The route seems to involve riders rattling around someone’s farm, over two sets of steps, sand, off camber, concrete bridges and some wee barns.
This may be the first WC race to be held here, but France has hosted regular rounds of the World Cup in the past. Indeed France has a strong cyclocross tradition, and history tells us the discipline was invented in the north of the country. In the years before the Cyclocross World Champs started (1950), France held the defacto world champs, known as the Criterium International de Cyclo-cross, which French riders dominated. In the early years of the World Champs, French riders made the top step of the podium there own, with Andre Dufraisse winning five times on the trot after Roger Rondeaux (3) and Jean Robic (1). The late 50s saw other nations knock the Frenchmen off their pedestal, which they would never recover. These days the French tradition is represented by the likes of Francis Mourey, Clement Venturini and Francis Mourey, as well as rising star in the women’s ranks, Caroline Mani.
She’s got medals
The recent racing has seen the cream rise to the top in Women’s cyclocross.
Sanne Cant won at Heusden Zolder, Azencross and Baal, before taking the Belgian national jersey in Lille, showing she has recoved from her injuries in early December. Elsewhere, Thalita de Jong managed to pick up a Superprestige win, which pointed to her strong performance in winning the Dutch nats. Nikki Harris kept up a strong run of form, shaking off a festive flu bout to take the British Nationals, something the French force Caroline Mani emulated. It’s not hard to anticipate these ladies taking the race by the scruff of the neck on Sunday, perhaps with Katie Compton and Eva Lechner thrown in to the mix. But I can’t see past Cant for the win.
Boys keeps swinging
The Lowlands continue to deliver fantastic young ‘cross riders, with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel dominating the races since Christmas. Both riders picked up their respective national champions jerseys and are red-hot favourites to win in France, and carry their form to the World Champs. In the Belgian nats the top 5 consisted of for riders aged 22/3, with grandaddy Nijs breaking the sequence. Laurens Sweecks seemed to realize you should always save some energy for the end of a race instead of burning up too early, and won an impressive silver. There will be a number of riders looking for redemption, including Pauwels and Vantornout, but it’s hard to see past the dynamic duo of Van der Poel and Van Aert.
Sound and Vision
The races will be shown in the UK on the UCI channel:
Highlights will also be shown Eurosport on Sunday evening:
Eurosport 1 9.00pm
Eurosport 2 10.00pm
Enjoy the racing