Tuesday, October 16, 2007

cx primer

Stolen, with deep appreciation, from The Podium Cafe. This is as close as The Hockey News' Ultimate Pool Guide as you're going to find for our humble little cx pool. But it should help to figure out some of the names and races. Two more days to submit your teams. fortgarrybikeclubATgmailDOTcom

In light of this, I'm inclined to add the Superprestige series to the World Cup and World Championship races as FGBC cx Pool points-conting races. The first one was this past Sunday. But we can count the rest. It'll give us something to look forward to during the breaks between some of the World Cup races.


Rabobank: The first name you need to know is Sven Nys. He is probably the most dominant cyclocross racer of all time, and at age 31, not out of his prime yet. Over 150 cyclocross wins including: 2005 World Champion, 4 time Belgian champion, 7 time superprestige series winner, and 4 GVA trophies. He's been seen occasionally racing Paris-Roubaix for the Rabobank road team. The second name you need to know is Lars Boom. The 21 year old is the current World Espoirs Champion and Dutch National Champion after being the Dutch espoirs champ the previous 3 years and the junior champion the 3 years before that. And of course he was the 2003 Junior World Champ as well. Nys has even tabbed Boom (along with Niels Albert) as one of the riders he fears this year. Other riders: Gerben De Knegt, Bart Aernouts

Fidea: Bart Wellens is the current Belgian champion, but has had to play 2nd best to Nys most of his career. Nonetheless, Wellens has won 2 World Championships, 3 Belgian Championships, 1 Superprestige and 1 GVA trophy. Plus he has his own reality TV show and he's just a badass, once taking a kick at a spectator who was taunting him. See it here. Now that is some impressive bike handling skill. Also on the team is current World Champion, Erwin Vervecken. At 35, he on his way down, but he still is a consistent top 5 threat who always seems to peak for the worlds, as he has won 3 titles and podiumed 5 other times. Other riders: Zdenek Stybar, Kevin Pauwels, Petr Dlask, Klaas Vantornout

Sunweb-Projob: A new team this year, notable for signing Jonathan Page. The 3 time USA National Champion was one of the first Americans cyclocross racer to move himself and his family to Belgium full time. His results have been getting progressively better each year, culminating in the Silver in last season's World Championship. Other riders: Sven Vanthourenhout, Tom Vannoppen, David Willemsens

Palmans-Collstrop: The team of the future with 2 young stars: 23 year old Radomir Simunek Jr, who won last year's World Cup race in Tabor, and 20 year old Niels Albert. The 2 time defending U23 Belgian champion beat Nys twice in last year's GVA series. Nys has publicly stated that Albert and Boom are the riders he fears most. Albert won the final race of last season (GVA Oostmalle) and the first of this season at Dudzele.

There are a smattering of smaller teams that I don't know enough about to write about. A few notables are: 5 time Dutch National Champion and 2000 World Champion Richard Groendaal has left Rabobank and will be riding for AA Drink instead of retiring. Several Americans will be racing a bit more in Europe this year including National Champion Ryan Trebon and Kona teammate Barry Wicks. And there are always a few established road racers who show up and do well in cross as well: Francis Mourey (FDJ) won the UCI World Cup in Treviso last year surprising Nys and Vervecken. John Gadret (AG2R), Enrico Franzoi (Bronze Medalist at 2007 Worlds) of Lampre, and Roger Hammond (T-Mob) are some of the other notable names that have had success at cyclocross.

The Races

The UCI rates and give points for each sanctioned cyclocross events with a World Cup, C1, or C2 classification. There are about 10 World Cup events each year, there was definite interest in having a World Cup event in the US this year, but the logistics couldn't get finalized. Maybe next year. Usually even the largest USA races are rated C2, but the Supercross #1 in New York got a C1 rating. Erwin Vervecken came to the USA and won that race. The UCI points not only determine the World Cup series winner, but also your critical start position at the World Championship race. Earlier this year a few European pros were racing in the USA to "cherry pick" a few precious points.

Superprestige is an series of C1 races in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are a series in themselves and wildly popular among the locals. Sven Nys owns this series, winning all 8 races last year and the series 7 out of the last 9 years. The website is http://www.superprestigecyclocross.com/

The Gazet van Antwerpen (GVA) are a series of C1 races held near Antwerp. Similar to Superprestige, this is a 8 race series. When looking at the race listings these are harder to pick out because the race name have unique names like: Jaarmarktcross, GP Sven Nys, or Krawatencross. But this is also a highly coveted trophy to win. Nys also won this series last year, but not quite in the dominant fashion as Superprestige.

And there is the World Championship. The cyclocross world championship is probably the most coveted of all titles. Unlike its road race counterpart, everyone is on good form after a full season of racing. And also unlike the road race, which can favor specialists depending on parcours, the cyclocross champion almost always goes to the strongest rider.

For the past 10 years, it's been (almost) all Belgium, except for the controversial 2000 race. Richard Groenendaal (Ned) was out in front, being chased by Mario de Clerq and Sven Nys, both Belgians. Nys refused to help de Clerq chase down his Rabobank team captain, and Groenendaal went on to win. Nys was harshly criticized in the Belgian media, but eventually all was forgotten. Despite being nearly unbeatable during the season, Nys has had some forgettable Worlds even though the Belgian team has been so utterly dominant. Their basic technique is to get to the front and run a virtual team time trial until everyone else dropped. Here is a perfect picture of the machine in action.

There really hasn't been a challenge to recent Belgium superiority, but last year Jonathan Page was just 1 Vervecken bobble away from taking it all.

Here are the results from last season

World Cup
UCI World Cup, Aigle (Swi) - Nys, Wellens, Vervecken
UCI World Cup, Kalmthout (Bel) - Nys, Mourey, Vervecken
UCI World Cup, Tabor (Cze) - Simunek, Wellens, Vervecken
UCI World Cup, Treviso (Ita) - Mourey, Nys, Vervecken
UCI World Cup, Pijnacker (Ned) - Nys, Mourey, de Knegt
UCI World Cup, Koksijde (Bel) - Nys, Wellens, Vanthourenhout
UCI World Cup, Igorre (Spa) - Nys, Wellens, Vantornout
UCI World Cup, Milan (Ita) - Wellens, Nys, Vanthourenhout
UCI World Cup, Hofstade (Bel) - Vervecken, Dlask, Al
UCI World Cup, Nommay (Fra) - Nys, Wellens, de Knegt
UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide(Ned) - Nys, Dlask, Vervecken

Ruddervoorde (Bel) - Nys, Vanthourenhout, Wellens
Sint-Michielsgestel (Ned) - Nys, Pauwels, Groenendaal
Asper-Gavere (Bel) - Nys, Vervecken, Gadret
Gieten (Ned) - Nys, de Knegt, Vantornout
Bollekescross, Hamme-Zogge (Bel) - Nys, Wellens, Vervecken
Diegem (Bel) - Nys, Wellens, Pauwels
Hoogstraten (Bel) - Nys, Groendaal, De Knegt
Vorselaar (Bel) - Nys, Vantornout, Vervecken

GVA Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy
Koppenberg (GP Willy Naessens) - Nys, Groendaal, Gadret
Niel (Jaarmarktcross) - Wellens, Groendaal, Nys
Essen (GP Rouwmoer) - Nys, Wellens, De Knegt
Loenhout (Azencross) - Albert, Nys, Vervecken
Baal (GP Sven Nys) - Nys, Boom, Albert
Lille (Krawatencross) - Nys, Groendaal, De Knegt
Oostmalle (Int. Sluitingsprijs) - Albert, Nys, Page

Worlds Championship
World Championship, Hooglede-Gits, (Bel) Vervecken, Page, Franzoi

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