Four UCI cyclo-cross races are taking place in Europe this weekend with the fourth round of the World Cup in Roubaix being the highlight for both elite men and women. The other three races are for elite men only, and of note, there are no races in Belgium during the next two days.
Will Belgian Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) continue to take big chunks out of World champion Niels Albert's lead in the standings. After three races, Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) has a 30-point lead but Nys has been on a tear lately and was very impressive at the Koksijde WC. Though, this Sunday's course is obviously very different – nothing really compares to the sand dunes at Koksijde – the money would have to be on Nys. Both Albert and Nys along with most of the Belgian riders spent the last week in training in warm and sunny spots. Will it impact their legs when they return to colder conditions?
The French riders, especially Francis Mourey (FDJ-BigMat), off a strong third place at Koksijde, will be looking for another podium finish. Ranked 11th in the world, American champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) will also be on the start line at Roubaix. Powers is on the hunt for the World Cup UCI points to push him to the front row at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, and he needs a top 5 finish.
World Cup leader Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) will be looking to solidify her 40-point lead on Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women). The American champion who wants to win the overall this year is definitely the favorite going into the race. In third place overall is Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea) tied on points with fellow Brit European champion Helen Wyman (Kona).
Last seen in 2010, the course, which ends in the famous Roubaix velodrome, meanders around the track and includes some steep descents.
The other three races this weekend, for elite men only, are the Bryksy Cross- Gosciecin in Poland, the National Trophy Series Round 4 in Great Britain and the Tage des Querfeldeinsports in Austria; all on Sunday.