This weekend brings the second World Cup in Plzen, Czech Republic along with four UCI Class 2 races; three in the United States and one in Spain.
Winner of the first World Cup, Belgium's Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) has to be one of the top favorites going into Sunday's World Cup but last year's winner Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) cannot be discounted. In 2011, three were battling it out at the front for the win, Nys, Pauwels and then World Champion Zdenek Stybar. Then on the final lap, Nys made his move after the famous 23-step stairway where he took the inside line around a tree to get around Stybar and held it to the finish line ahead of Pauwels.
Nys showed that he was on form in Tabor last Sunday when he chased back from 22nd place to finish fifth after breaking his chain. Other riders to watch include the young phenom Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant) and reigning World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) who can never be discounted. US champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) had a great ride at Tabor where he finished seventh, the highest-placed placing – ever - for an American man but he wants more. Powers wants that top 5 finish and we think that he can do it. Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) and Jonathan Page will also be starting for the USA.
Off of two wins this past week, including the Tabor World Cup, Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women Cycling Team) has to be the favorite for the elite women's with only a very slight edge on US champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective). In 2011, Compton rode away from the field on the second lap and soloed to victory with van Paassen taking second. British champion Helen Wyman (Kona) should also be in the mix. If on form, Hanka Kupfernagel (Rusvelo) can be dangerous; the formidable German is returning to racing after a cold and training break.
Joining Compton on the American team are her young protegée Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), Amy Dombroski (Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team), Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob's Red Mill) and Christine Vardaros (Baboco Cycling Team).
Can anyone beat Dutch riders Mike Teunissen and Mathieu van der Poel in the under-23 and junior men races? Hoping to crack the top 3 will be Americans Zach McDonald in the under-23 and Logan Owen in the men junior races.
USA races. Meanwhile, in America this weekend are the two UCI races in Colorado, the Colorado Cross Classic and Boulder Cup, and the HPCX race in New Jersey. The snow which started falling a few days ago will more than likely turn to mud for the two races in Boulder this weekend, with the forecast calling for sun and highs of 49 F (9 C). Saturday's Colorado Cross Classic takes place at the Boulder Reservoir while Sunday's Boulder Cup is held at Valmont Bike Park with its hilly profile, twisting descents and long, deep staircase.
Favorites for the elite men's race have to be 2011 Colorado Cross Classic winner Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) and 2011 Boulder Cup winner Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement). Mountain biker and former US national cross champion Todd Wells (Specialized) is also going for the win as he embarks on his quest to qualify for Louisville 2013. For the elite women, all eyes will be on Colorado-resident Georgia Gould (Luna) who finished a strong second twice behind Compton.
The Highland CX (HPCX) race on Sunday October 28, in Jamesburg, New Jersey is a perfect opportunity for a few racers to get some hard to get UCI points. In the elite men's race, riders to watch include Justin Lindine (Redline), Jeremy Durrin (JAM Fund / NCC / Vittoria) and Adam Craig (Giant Rabobank Team) while Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) is the elite woman to beat.
Finally, the fifth UCI race of the weekend for men elite and junior only is the XX Cyclo-cross de Karrantza in Spain also on Sunday.