CX Worlds - All events take place Saturday due to flood alert, all races streamed live in UK
Marianne Vos aims to make it five in a row - and can anyone break Belgian dominance of men's event?
The four events that constitute this weekend’s UCI World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Louisville, Kentucky will all now take place on Saturday after warnings of flooding caused organisers to cancel Sunday’s programme. The championships are due to be broadcast live on the event website and the UCI’s YouTube channel for countries such as the UK without live TV coverage.
The change has been forced following a warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that parts Eva Bandman Park, where the event is being head, will become flooded early on Sunday morning with water levels continuing to rise for 48 hours afterwards.
The revised schedule of events tomorrow is as follows:
Event Time EST Time GMT Men Juniors 0945 1445 Elite Women 1100 1600 Men Under-23 1230 1730 Elite Men 1430 1930
It goes without saying that Marianne Vos starts the women’s race as favourite – the reigning world and Olympic road race champion is defending her title here and is going for her sixth title, and what would be her fifth in a row. Given she’s still only 25, it’s an incredible record.
It’s the first time the World Championships have been held in the United States - indeed, the first time outside Europe - and home hopes in the women’s race rest on Katie Compton, twice runner-up and once bronze medallist. At 34, she’s almost a decade older than Vos, but she’s certainly in form – she comes into the world championships on the back of a dominant victory in the season-long World Cup, and last month retained the US national championship.
The British challenge is led by Helen Wyman, current European champion, who is ranked number two in the world, behind Compton and just ahead of Vos. A win would be a stunning achievement, but a place on the podium is a distinct possibility – something no woman from Great Britain has managed since Louise Robinson took silver in the inaugural event in 2000.
In the men’s race, it seems less a question of which country the winner will come from, and more about which member of the Belgian team will take the rainbow jersey.
In the past four editions, only one non-Belgian has managed to get on the podium – the Czech rider Zdeněk Štybar, winner in 2010 and 2011, but he’s focusing on the Classics this season and misses the worlds to ride in the Tour of Qatar for Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Last year, Niels Albert beat his compatriots Rob Peeters and Kevin Pauwels on home soil – well, sand – at Koksijde, but this year the most serious challenge to his crown may well come from the man who finished seventh last time round, the 2005 champion Sven Nys.
Pauwels, meanwhile, has had a disappointing season after a strong 2011/12, but his biggest win of the current campaign came last month in the World Cup in Rome which could herald him getting back into form.
Belgium naturally dominate the world ranking, but there are some men who could gatecrash the party – Jonathan Page of the United States, who picked up silver in 2007, fresh from winning his national title for the fourth time, and Dutch rider Lars van der Haar. The 21-year-old is riding his first worlds at elite level, but he’s been under-23 world champion twice.