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"Who is the chosen one, who will be the best today?" WC Cyclocross, Sankt-Wendel, part 2 - the riders!

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Part two of a gsgirl-pigeons double act!

Yesterday we talked about the course for the CX Worlds - today we've looking at who'll be riding, and what we think about them.  Join us below the jump for who we rate as riders, how to spot them, and most importantly, their Patrick Safety Jogger Rating!  De Cross Gaat Door indeed!

The Men's race

If you looked at this from a numbers perspective, you wouldn't be going far wrong in saying "I bet a Belgian wins the race".  Luckily for everyone else, Cross is NOT a team sport, and despite their promises to the contrary, the Belgians are more likely to be so busy attacking each other that they miss someone sneaking up the inside and stealing the rainbows.  It's fabulous! But who should you be watching out for?  Gs presents the men-to-watch-out-for, with her very fabulous Patrick Safety Jogger rating!

Niels Albert  

Well, of course Niels Albert gets five Safety Joggers. The soon-to-be 25-year old has won this season's World Cup, is the current Belgian champion and has seven victories on his tally so far this season (Koksijde, Igorre, Hoogerheide, Diegem, Loenhout, Belgian nationals, Tervuren). His last win was on Sunday, in Hoogerheide, where he narrowly held off Kevin Pauwels. Albert's greatest weapon is his power, his greatest 'weakness'  is his lack - and I use that term lightly - of technical skills. Niels is one of the guys who will not be praying for snow and ice.


The Czech champion - and defending world champ - injured his back a while ago, effectively ending his hopes of winning the World Cup. So Zdenek shifted his focus to the rainbows. Much to the annoyance of the organisers, he skipped the Pont-Château leg in favour of sunny Mallorca training, and he is all in for another rainbow jersey. The parcours isn't his absolute favourite but we are talking about Styby here. You can't rule him out, and with his transfer to QuickStep now definite, he's lost a load from his shoulders as well. Also, he did become U23 champ in Sankt-Wendel, so "not his absolute favourite" race is relative.

Kevin Pauwels

Yoah.

Sven Nys

You know what's totally weird? The greatest cyclocross racer ever has only been world champion once. You know what gives the Belgians me (that's gs, by the way) hope? It was right here in Sankt-Wendel that he got his only title. As you know because you read yesterday's preview, back then there was ice. As you know if you passed CX history 101, 2005 was Nys' most extraordinary year - he won the world cup, the gva trophy, the superprestige series, the world championships and the Belgian championships. This year hasn't been quite as impressive (his bar is ridiculously high), and Nys is on the way back from illness, but just as Stybar, one doesn't discount Nys. I mean, come on, it's Nys.

 

OTHERS

I've run out of alt text snark

Francis Mourey, Klaas Vantornout, Tom Meeusen, Bart Aernouts, Bart Wellens, Philip Walsleben, Gerben De Knegt, Jonathan Page

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Ian Field, Steve Chainel, Christian Heule, Marco Fontana, Enrico Franzoi, Timothy Johnson, Robert Gavenda

How will you spot who's who?  Well, jerseys aside, check out gsgirl's A-Z of cyclocrossers, with more photos, descriptions etc.  Or just head to the livethreads on the day and say "Is that X?" and hopefully someone will help!

The Women's Race

We don't get to see the women race as much as the men, so you might not be as used to their styles, so here's the Pigeons-eye-view of who to look out for.

Katie Compton
That's a lot of safety for a guy who normally handles powertools

The American rider has ridden a very specific season - nipping back and forth across the Atlantic to ride key World Cup races.  To great effect - she has won every European race she's ridden so far (Aigle, Koksijde, Kalmthout, Zolder and Hoogerheide).  She's well known for her POWER!!! - although she's less good at the technical aspects (relatively to the other key riders) - and I'm not sure a muddy track is her favourite kind of racing.  Last year she was out of the Worlds due to ongoing cramping, and she was very disappointed not to be able to contest for her first cx rainbow jersey.  Despite all that, she comes in as the rider to beat this year.  Spot her by her stars & stripes, ponytail, and strong build.

Marianne Vos

That's a lot of safety for a guy who normally handles powertools

Vos is the current World Champion, and at 24 would like her fourth set of rainbows to hang next to her Road and Track Rainbows and Olympic gold medal on the track.  Yes, Vos may be describing Compton as the favourite - and she may have come third behind Compton on Sunday at Hoogerheide, in the only race where they started on equal footing (Vos has ridden a reduced season too, as she's also focusing on track this winter, with her eyes on London 2012) but no one knows how to bring their A Game to the races that count like Vos can.  She's especially good at acceleration - and if it comes to a sprint, she can beat the top riders on the road and in the field.  The best all-round cyclist riding today (ever?) - but can even Vos manage to ride road, track and cross back-to-back and keep winning?  We'll see! 

Spot her by her bright orange bikes, little ponytail of brown curls, and her physical riding style.

Hanka Kupfernagel

Four safety shoes for Nys? Doing this depresses me.

Kupfernagel may have started the 2010/11 season slowly, but she's been building her form with 1 goal this season - her 5th CycloCross World Champs jersey.  On her home soil.  On the course which she won on, last time the World Champs were hosted here.  Kupfernagel was the first ever women's Cyclocross World Champion, and although at 36 she's one of the older riders out there, she's certainly learned every trick in the book in the time she's riding.  Never discount her, either!  Spot her by her German national champ jersey!

Daphny van den Brand

Four safety shoes for Nys? Doing this depresses me.

We're still not sure if DvdB is riding this year, as she has been out of racing for a while due to bronchitis.  Probably the best, in terms of technical skills, if she does ride, she'll always be a contender.  She's been European Champion for pretty much forever, and she was World Champ in 2003 - and she's always fun to watch.  And if any riders are likely to decide to ride as a team to get away from everyone else until the last lap, it's the Dutch.  Dear Daphny, please be riding!  Spot her by her two braids and the fact she's tiny - and riding the most amazing lines through the most difficult terrain.

OTHERS

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Sanne Cant, Sanne van Paassen, Pavla Havlikova, Helen Wyman, Katerina Nash

Safety_jogger_2_medium

Sophie de Boer, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot

There's more on (some of) the women Cross riders in my Top Trumps post - with links to their websites, twitters, and all that

So, you disagree with us, right? Of course you do - and it would be no fun setting up these ratings without endless discussion about it!  Tell us where we're wrong (or always right!) in the comments!