Fans are poised for another duel between Belgian Champion Sven Nys and World Champion Niels Albert in the two major UCI races in Europe this weekend, the Bpost Bank Trofee - GP Hasselt on Saturday and the Superprestige Gavere on Sunday. Can anyone challenge for the top step? Will Kevin Pauwels, who won the previous two years at Hasselt find his form?
Along with the two previously mentioned races in Belgium, the coming weekend also has races in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Great Britain and France for a total of six races, five C2 and one C1.
Albert is the leader of the Bpost Bank Trofee series with 54 seconds edge on Nys. Pauwels is third, over two minutes down. This year, the series went to a time-based classification including an intermediate sprint for time bonus instead of points. Missing from the start line will be Tom Meeusen who suffered bruised ribs in a crash at Superprestive Zonhoven. There is no elite women's race at GP Hasselt.
A few days earlier, vandals stole three of the four-meter long and 40-cm thick logs that were used as obstacle on the GP Hasselt course. Investigation is underway.
Sunday brings the fourth race of the Superprestige series, the only C1 of the weekend, in Gavere, Belgium. Winner of the first three races, series leader Nys has a a three-point lead on Albert and 36 point on Pauwels. With seven victories previously at Gavere, Nys is certainly the favorite to take the win and many are starting to wonder if Nys can win eight races out of eight again, like he did in 2006/07 season.
With neither Sanne van Paassen not European Champion Helen Wyman on the start list, the favorites in the elite women's races have to be Nikki Harris and Belgian Champion Sanne Cant.
Also on Saturday, is the Toi Toi Cup in Hole Vrchy in the Czech Republic for elite men only.
There more UCI races on Sunday: the National Trophy Series Round 3 for elite and junior men takes place in Southampton, Great Britain, the Flückiger Cross Madiswil in Madiswil, Switzerland for elite men and women and the Challenge National 2ème Epreuve for elite, under23, junior men and elite women in Besançon, France.