Saturday alert! These kindly gentlemen of West Flanders would like you to know that tomorrow (not Sunday) marks one of the true highlights of the European Cyclocross calendar, the International Vlaamse Duinencross, a/k/a the DuneCross, a/k/a World Cup Koksijde. You may remember Koksijde from such Podium Cafe entries as Hey, It's Day Three of Driedaagse De Panne! and IrishPeloton's Is Three Days of De Panne Three Days Too Many? Yep, it's time to swing out to the North Sea for some sandy mayhem.
Here's what tgsgirl had to say about it in September:
A race like no other, the Koksijde cross is almost entirely on dune sand. Which is terrible when it's dry, and even more terrible when it's wet. There will be crashes and the riders will be exhausted. Lots of running too. It wouldn't hurt to pay attention, as Koksijde is the home of the 2012 World Championships.
Excited yet? Should be a truly competitive event, despite the dry conditions. Sand will do that to ya. Zdenek Stybar has a nice history here with a turn on each podium place over the last three years, and with last year's winner Niels Albert absent. Sven Nys hasn't won in four years, but he has been second and will obviously figure in the outcome. Kevin Pauwels has been on an incredible tear lately, though K-Pow has no real history on the dunes (yet). Speaking of the dunes, here's the map:
Two big dunes and some smaller bits of sand, with one bridge. Check out last year!
Cyclocross World Cup Koksijde 2010 - Final 2 laps (via cyclocrosschannel)
What's not to love? Presumably the course hasn't changed much, other than drying out. Sporza has some ppractice videosfor an updated viewpoint.
The startlist reflects the UCI status, as in everyone is here. And when I say everybody, I mean Lars Boom. OK, I only wish that, and he is on the startlist but apparently it's a mirage and he'll start his brief dalliance with Cross at Namen next month. Still, the usual Belgians are there (including two Vanthourenhouts and a Vantornout), France has Mourey, Gadret and Chainel among the familiar faces, and the US is repped by Powers and Page. Sven and Styby trail K-Pow by 15 points (150-135) on the World Cup circuit, with two laps down and six to go.
On the women's side, Marianne Vos and Daphny van den Brand head up a big NL contingent, with Belgian Sanne Cant, Americans Katie Compton and Amy Dombroski, Brit Helen Wyman, and German Hanka Kupfernagel among the challengers to the coming Dut... ah, never mind. I can't seem to find the series standings but Katerina Nash, winner in Tabor, isn't on the startlist, so presumably things are wide open. Should be great!
Photo lovingly borrowed from Veloclub Koksijde.