The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup reaches its climax in the Netherlands this weekend.
The world’s best drop bar off-road riders will converge on Hoogerheide for the eighth and final round of the season-long series, to be held just one week before the world championships in Belgium.
Two British riders will hope to continue their impressive seasons in the world cup’s closing round: newly-crowned national champion, Ian Field, and Helen Wyman, who added a record seventh national women’s title to her palmares in Ipswich two weeks ago.
The men’s world cup will be decided between the three men who have dominated the season: world champion, Czechoslovakia’s Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and the Belgian riders, Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet).
Stybar took his first win of the world cup at the preceeding round in Lievin, France, soloing to victory after Pauwels, who leads the series, crashed after a race-long duel with his Czech rival.
Nys and Pauwels have three wins each, recording victories in alternate rounds, while Stybar’s fluctuating form seems to have improved as the world cup reaches its climax.
There is no love lost between Nys and Pauwels, with the latter claiming Nys forced him into the barriers in a sprint for victory at the third round in Koksijde. The battle for overall victory looks set to be intense.
Field will ride his first world cup round in the British champion’s jersey, and will hope to build on his world cup standing of 36th overall.
The women’s championship will go to the wire, following consecutive victories in the last three rounds from world champion, Marianne Vos (Stichting Rabo Women).
Daphny van den Brand’s (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) consistent season sees her enter the final round with a slender 46 point lead over Vos, after three second-placed finishes and victory in the third round at Koksijde.
Newly-crowned French national champion, Lucie Chainel-Lefevre, sits third with 196 points, with a second-placed finish at the fourth round in Namur her highest of the world cup season. Fourth-placed Katherine Compton (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) who won the Amercian national championship earlier this month, took victory at the opening round and stood on the podium’s third step in Koksijde, Namur, and Lievin, and is just one point behind Chainel-Lefevre.
Britain’s Helen Wyman is seventh overall after a strong season against the world’s best that has included three fifth-placed finishes. In a recent interview with RCUK, she said a podium finish at next week’s world championships as “do-able”, but described Vos as “pretty much unbeatable”.
Check back on Monday (23) for the results.
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