Cross worlds preview
The course St. Wendel will be a familiar sight for the riders who ride Mountain bikes in the summer. This is the town that usually hosts a round of the MTB World Cup. The start is on a running track, which may provide viewers with a Kevin Keegan Superstars type moment (let's hope not) but it may also mean that the pack remains tight for longer than usual. As with all cross races the start will make the selection and with the front rows being dominated by Belgians and, well more Belgians, you'll have to be pretty handy to fight your way up the field.
It's been reported that the course is hilly but rideable with less running than usual. This may favour the mountain bikers like Jody Crawforth, Simon Richardson and Victoria Wilkinson. Helen Wyman is also suited to the less running orientated circuit. The weather may change this. And it's cold. During January-February, the weather is generally dry and cold. Some snow falls are possible and the average temperature varies between +5° to -5° during the day and -5° to -10° during the night. Leg warmers all round then. Snow will certainly throw up some shocks and, usually, some crashes.
One thing's for sure, the Germans know how to organise a race and St. Wendel is cycling crazy, so expect a great race with a warm atmosphere.
Elite Women This is the strongest GB women's squad ever to be sent to a world championships. National Champion Louise Robinson proved that she was still a class rider by beating the seasoned field after only a few competitive outings this year. She has medalled at the Worlds before and on her day will be up there. But it's been a highly competitive national race series this year and Helen Wyman, Gaby Day and Victoria Wilkinson are all capable of a top ten finish. Helen Wyman will get the all important grid place as a top five UCI ranked rider. Whatever happens it all looks good for the future of Women's 'cross in the UK.
Juniors The last Gold medal we had at this level was no other than Discovery channel pro and current National road champ Roger Hammond. Alex Atkins has shown he's one of the finest talents of his generation. A tip for a medal definitely. He could shock a few of the Belgian boys as he has a wicked turn of speed and doesn't seem to fade as the race progresses. His winning margins in the UK have been impressive and he has been competing regularly with the seniors so he has plenty of riding in his legs. The shorter race may be a problem if he can't get a good start but if things go well he could come home with a result. Alex is joined by Mark Thwaites, Tom Last and Paul Cox.
Under 23 Simon Richardson will be riding alone in the under 23s and will probably be there for experience and as a distraction from his mountain bike duties. The ride-able course will suit him and given a good start he could get in the top 15.
Elite men Sadly Nick Craig and Matt Ellis have decided not to go for the Elite men's race. Jody Crawforth seems to be less intimidated by the Belgians. He's got as good a chance as anyone as he has a super fast start and the St. Wendel course suits a fastman. It could be an exciting first few laps as the course is certainly one for competitive racing. Richard Groenendaal may be the only non-Belgian on the podium. RCUK's tip to win is Sven Vanthourenhout and yes he's Belgian.
It is alleged that the highlights will be on Eurosport details here and just have a look at how much is on Belgian TV!
With the pro-road season underway you can get a fix of cycling this weekend as the Tour of Langkawi is on Eurosport this weekend