It's that time of year when many riders will claim the right and honor to wear their national jersey for 12 months as cyclo-cross national championships are being held in 16 European countries as well as in the United States.
Many of these same new champions will be racing a few weeks later at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville, KY on February 2-3, 2013.
Here's a quick round-up of the National championships for Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.
Lots of sand at the Belgian Championships are held in Mol on the edge of Zilvermeer Lake. And a lot of running. Niels Albert is being touted as the pre-race favorite while outgoing champion Sven Nys will announce on Friday if he will be participating. Nys, has been battling an illness for the past week. Elite men, women, under23 men and junior men champion will be crowned.
Lars Boom takes on Lars van der Haar at the Dutch National Championships in Tilburg where expected cold weather could change course conditions dramatically for the elite men's race. The formidable Marianne Vos returns to claim another championship title in the elite women's race. Under23 and junior men titles are also up for grabs.
Weather could be also a factor for the races in Nommay, France where Francis Mourey will try to regain the title he held for six consecutive years until Aurelien Duval won the title in 2012 The elite women's race should be heated for the selection to race in Louisville depends on results especially after the French Cycling Federation announced that only two women will be racing at the World Championships. Under-23 and junior men champions will also be crowned this weekend.
The city of Bradford in West Yorkshire hosts the British Championships in the extensive grounds of Peel Park; the same venue that hosted the 2009 championships. Will Helen Wyman make it eight wins or will Nikki Harris or Gabby Day break the streak in the elite women's race? Ian Field will return to defend his title against multiple contenders such as Oli Beckingsale in the elite men's race. Under-23 and junior men champions will also be crowned this weekend. According to British cycling, the tough and exposed course features steep muddy bankings, steps and playing fields on both sides on the stsart/finish tarmac.
Only one title race on Saturday in Stríbro in the Czech Republic when Zdenek Stybar will defend his title in his final cyclo-cross race of his shortened season. Stybar has an extra incentive to do well as his father is the race organizer. Last fall, Pavla Havlikova won the elite women title and Adam Toupalik the junior men crown.
Elite men, women, under23 and junior men titles are also on the line for Portugal in Campea - Vila Real; for Germany in Bremen; for Switzerland in Steinmaur; for Luxemboug in Belvaux; for Croatia in Split; for Poland in Kozieglowy and for Italy in Vittorio Veneto – Trevisio.
Ireland, Austria and Denmark will crown a champion for elite men, elite women and junior men in Dundalk, St. Pölten and Vejen respectively.