Oy vey, there is more snow outside than I want to measure and the windchill has finally climbed into the negative single digits (farenheit), but somehow there is still bike racing going on. No, not that silly stuff on the southern side of the equator - I'm talking about bike races in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclocross season is still trudging along and this weekend we head to Nommay, France, for the final round of the World Cup. With the World Championships the following weekend on a relatively similar course, it could be one worth tuning in for.
We haven't been here for years, but Nommay held a World Cup race in 2008. Back then, Niels Albert beat Zdeneck Stybar in a sprint. Yes, you read that right.
Eh, not a lot, really. The course reminds me a lot of Hoogerheide, the site of the World Championships next weekend. Check out the map if you like, but it's not that descriptive. That means it's mostly meh with a few "eh, not so bad" sections. Unlike Hoogerheide, there aren't long series of straights capped by 180s. But, the course is in a grassy park with only a few short hills. One of those rises could pose problems, or a launchpad, in the last few laps because it is steep enough to make it a borderline run-up (read: Sven is licking his lips right now). Aside from that? One off camber section at the top of a climb that could be either really fun to watch, or very anticlimactic.
But, wait! There is one interesting feature after all. At the end of the long start stretch there is a sharp left hand turn and then a set of stairs. Whooeee, I can't wait to watch the first lap mess that is sure to ensue there. Here is video from the last running of the race in 2008.
Aside from the race, both the elite men and women's World Cup Overall standings are pretty much set in stone, or at least on the top step of the podium. Katie Compton does not even need to start on Sunday to guarantee her win, such has been her dominance this season. Lars van der Haar does need to finish the race, but given the favorable nature of the course for him and the 54 point gap between him and Niels Albert, there is no reason to think he will lose the jersey. Simply put, if Albert wins, van der Haar can finish 20th and still win the overall. Behind, Albert and Philipp Walsleben are separated by only 9 points, if that interests you. While Compton has won the World Cup overall before - last year, to be precise - this is the first big series win for van der Haar and is a coming out party for the youngster who is in only his second year in the elite ranks.
Who Do I Need to Know?
The weather this week has been depressingly dry. But, there is a 70% chance of morning snow showers on Sunday, so things could get interesting by the time the later races roll around. With temperatures hovering just above freezing all day, expect snow to make course conditions similar to those at the world championships last year in Louisville - that is, increasingly slick and muddy as the day goes on. But with precipitation only a possibility, you'll need to cross your fingers, and maybe those toes too.
The elite men and women will be racing at 13:30 and 15:00 local time respectively. Live video will be available on the UCI youtube page. Linky here. The stream works everywhere except the United States, so if you live on this side of the Atlantic you'll need to use HOLA or a similar service to unblock the feed.