Thursday 26 January 2012

Koksijde CX World Championships Preview

Mud, rain, sand, possibly even snow:
Koksijde is unique in CX
(image credit: Alex Robbins CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
"@FieldyCX Ian Field
Bigger crowd watching practice today than at any event in the UK. It's going to be huge!"
There's nowhere quite like Koksijde. It's got the mixture of tarmac, grass and woodland that are epected of any cyclo cross course, but it has one unique feature - sand dunes.

If you've ever tried to ride a bike in sand, you'll know difficult it is. Shift your weight too much over the front wheel and it digs in, then you fall of. Too much weight over the rear wheel and digs in, sucking the strength right out of legs as you pedal harder to overcome the sucking effect, then more often than not you fall off. Get the balance just right and the sand still sucks the strength out of your legs. Try to go round a corner and everything's fine - just kidding! You fall off. Well, that's what happens in dry sand, at any rate; it's much worse when it's wet. Which it usually is on the very westernmost tip of Belgium.

Since cycling is unique among sports in that fans aren't really happy unless they get to see their heroes suffer, this make Koksijde one of the most popular courses in cyclo cross; and that's why it's been chosen as the location of the 2012 UCI World Cyclo Cross Championships, to be held this weekend.  More good news for spectators is that it's been raining heavily for much of the week and though Friday is expected to be dry, more rain on Saturday should mean a nice, soggy parcours - and, best of all, there's a chance of snow on Sunday.

If Vos doesn't like sand, she
might only be 75% as good
as she usually is. That may
still prove too strong for
the rest.
Likely winners? As ever, it's very difficult to see any of the women getting the better of Marianne Vos. The 24-year-old Dutch champion quite literally dominated the final round of the World Cup last weekend, powering away from the start line and never looking back. However, it's the opinion of your beloved author that while Vos is a phenomenally talented rider on all terrain (including road and track), sand is not the one she likes best - she lost by 13" to Daphny van den Brand here in Round 3 of the World Cup. Whether she dislikes it enough for it to make the slightest bit of difference is as of yet unknown. Van den Brand, who won the World Cup, will undoubtedly want to do well - she's planning this season to be her last, and retiring a both World Champion and Cup holder would be a glorious end to a glorious career. Katie Compton will be worth keeping an eye on, too - she won here in 2010 and has been having a decent season.

Among the men? Sven Nys. He's won here multiple times in the past, the last time being the November World Cup round; but he also won all the World Cup rounds here from 2005 to 2007 - and took his first victory among the dunes right back in 1999. He missed out on the World Cup and could only manage sixth at the last round on a parcours that looked suited to him - finally taking the Worlds title would be more than sufficient consolation for that; but is it evidence, perhaps, that he's due to be the next victim of the virus?

Sven Nys
(image credit: DarkSideX
CC BY-SA 3.0)
Zdenek Stybar and Niels Albert look set to be his greatest challenge - Stybar won here in 2009, Albert last year. Kevin Pauwels finished just a second behind Nys on this very course in November but stormed his way through much of the rest of the World Cup. Still a relative newcomer to the upper echelons of the sport in comparison to Nys and Albert, there could be no better way of confirming himself as the new king of cyclo cross than taking both the Cup and the Championship.

Britain's best hopes
Helen Wyman and Ian Field are the best chances Britain has of a World Champion. Helen is by far our best chance: she came 6th here during the World Cup race back in November, has been British Champion for the last seven consecutive years and says that she has been working towards improving her starts - the long, straight sprint away from the start line is likely to give her an advantage in the early part of the race. Nikki Harris was seventh in November and is likely to also do well in this race. Gabby Day was tenth, but is still recovering from the respiratory virus that many cyclo cross riders have suffered this season and will not be racing. This isn't the ideal parcours for Ian - he was 22nd here in November - but he's far more experienced on this unique track that either Jody Crawforth or Paul Oldham.

The Parcours
The start line is situated on the runway just south of the hangars at 51° 5'54.20"N 2°38'38.78"E and leads into a 280m slightly downhill straight section to ensure a fast start before the first turning, to the right and onto grass. Around 150m later, riders cross a narrow track and enter the woods for the first time and, beginning to climb, turn left and right into a paved track. After 90m, they will leave the track and enter a technical forest section which, in the wet, will be very slippery.

Once out of the trees, the parcours follows the boundary of the forest for 100m before turning sharply left and arriving at the pits. Two preserved aircraft - a Hawker Hunter and a Sikorsky helicopter, both bearing Belgian insignia, can be seen from this section. A right turn then leads into a 165m sand dune section (51° 6'9.41"N 2°38'32.56"E) and onto a bridge.  Having crossed the grass on the other side, riders turn left and head over Robert Vandammestraat and into a 218m section characterised by scrubby trees and shrubs - the sort of terrain also known as puncture country - then come to a paved track and follow it as it bends to the left for around 85m. They then turn right onto short grass, cross three tracks and arrive at a smaller sandy section.

Once through the sand and over another track, they arrive back at the bridge and cross into the same 165m sandy section as earlier. They follow a similar path through it, exit where they previously entered and turn left for a second visit to the pits. After turning right to follow the edge of the forest, they turn right again past houses and come to a road where they turn right again to sprint for 90m, then left off the road and into a 100m sandy section and, having ridden through a short wooded section, arrive at another road where they can sprint for 130m before reaching more grass. They cross a ditch and, after 130m on grass, head downhill arrive back at the starting point. The entire parcours is 2.89km in length.

Please note: More than 32,000 tickets have been sold, meaning there will be none available to buy at the event. Please don't waste money by showing up if you don't already have tickets!

Races start: Juniors Saturday 11:00, Under-23 Saturday 15:00, Elite Women Sunday 11:00, Elite Men Sunday 15:00 (all times CET, GMT is -1)

Streams: Sports-Livez are providing live stream of all races, including Juniors and Under-23.


Elite Women

  1    GRIMBERG, Arenda NL
  2    BOER, Sophie De NL
  3    STULTIENS, Sabrina NL
  4    BRAND, Daphny Van Den NL
  5    PAASSEN, Sanne Van NL
  6    RIJEN, Linda Van NL
  7    VOS, Marianne NL
  8    BRUCHMANN, Gesa GER
  9    SCHWEIZER, Sabrina GER
  11    MANI, Caroline FRA
  12    HAVLIKOVA, Pavla CZE
  13    MIKULASKOVA, Martina CZE
  14    NASH, Katerina CZE
  15    DAY, Gabriella GBR
  16    HARRIS, Nikki GBR
  17    LAST, Annie GBR
  18    WYMAN, Helen GBR
  19    ANTONNEAU, Kaitlin USA
  20    COMPTON, Katherine USA
  21    DOMBROSKI, Amy USA
  22    DUKE, Nicole USA
  23    MILLER, Meredith USA
  24    GAMONAL, Rocio ESP
  25    ACHERMANN, Jasmin SWI
  26    HENZELIN, Lise-marie SWI
  27    MAURER, Sabrina SWI
  28    CANT, Sanne BEL
  29    QUINTENS, Hilde BEL
  30    VANDERBEKEN, Joyce BEL
  31    ARZUFFI, Alice Maria ITA
  32    INNERHOFER, Julia ITA
  33    LECHNER, Eva ITA
  34    ROSSI, Vania ITA
  35    SCANDOLARA, Valentina ITA
  36    ERLANDSSON, Asa Maria SVE
  37    SNIHS, Kajsa SVE
  38    MAJERUS, Christine LUX
  39    WASIUK, Olga POL
  40    WHITSON, Genevieve NZ
  41    ARDAVE, Lelde LAT
  42    FURMANE, Madara LAT
  43    HANSEN, Nikoline DEN
  44    MIYAUCHI, Sakiko JAP
  45    TOYOOKA, Ayako JAP

Elite Men

  1    DLASK, Petr CZE
  2    KYZIVAT, Vladimir CZE 
  3    POLNICKY, Jiri CZE
  4    SIMUNEK, Radomir CZE
  5    STYBAR, Zdenek CZE
  6    ZLAMALIK, Martin CZE
  7    AERNOUTS, Bart BEL
  8    ALBERT, Niels BEL
  9    MEEUSEN, Tom BEL
  10    NYS, Sven BEL
  11    PAUWELS, Kevin BEL
  12    PEETERS, Rob BEL
  13    VANTORNOUT, Klaas BEL
  14    BOULO, Matthieu FRA
  15    BOURGOIN, Clement FRA
  16    CHAINEL, Steve FRA
  17    DUVAL, Aurelien FRA
  18    GADRET, John FRA
  19    MOUREY, Francis FRA
  20    MEISEN, Marcel GER
  21    PFINGSTEN, Christoph GER
  22    WALSLEBEN, Philipp GER
  23    WEBER, Sascha GER
  24    DRISCOLL, James USA
  25    JOHNSON, Tim USA
  26    JONES, Chris USA
  27    PAGE, Jonathan USA
  28    POWERS, Jeremy USA
  29    TREBON, Ryan USA
  30    RAMOS, Jose VEN
  32    MURGOITIO, Egoitz ESP
  34    SUAREZ, Isaac ESP
  35    KNEGT, Gerben De NL
  36    HUENDERS, Mitchell NL
  37    AMERONGEN, Thijs Van NL
  38    BRAND, Twan Van Den NL
  39    WUBBEN, Niels NL
  40    DARVELL, Magnus SVE
  41    CRAWFORTH, Jody GBR
  42    FIELD, Ian GBR
  43    OLDHAM, Paul GBR
  44    BARENYI, Milan SLO
  45    GAVENDA, Robert SLO
  46    HARING, Martin SLO
  47    METLICKA, Vaclav SLO
  48    HEULE, Christian SUI
  49    TARAMARCAZ, Julien SUI
  50    WILDHABER, Marcel SUI
  51    ZAHNER, Simon SUI
  52    BIANCO, Marco ITA
  53    COMINELLI, Christian ITA
  54    DAMIANI, Luca ITA
  55    FRANZOI, Enrico ITA
  56    TABACCHI, Mirko ITA
  57    GIL, Mariusz POL
  58    RICHEY, Craig CAN
  60    TSUJIURA, Keichi JAP
  61    BAUSCH, Gusty LUX
  62    HELMIG, Christian LUX
  63    GEHBAUER, Robert OST
  64    GEISMAYR, Daniel OST
  65    GOLLINGER, Karl Heinz OST
  66    LEWIS, Rattray NZ
  67    QUIST, David Andrew NOR
  68    SOROKINS, Dimitriy LAT
  69    YILDIRIM, Hakan TUR


  1    GODRIE, Stan NL
  2    TEUNISSEN, Mike NL
  3    HAAR, Lars Van Der NL
  4    HEIJDEN, Michiel Van Der NL
  5    POEL, David Van Der NL
  6    EMPEL, Micki Van NL
  7    BOSMANS, Wietse BEL
  8    BRAET, Vinnie BEL
  9    SWEECK, Laurens BEL
  10    VANTHOURENHOUT, Michael
  11    VERMEERSCH, Gianni BEL
  12    ALAPHILIPPE, Julian FRA
  13    BOUVARD, Kevin FRA
  14    JOUFFROY, Arnaud FRA
  15    MENUT, David FRA
  16    VENTURINI, Clément FRA
  17    HNIK, Karel CZE
  18    NESVADBA, Jan CZE
  19    VOJTECH, Nipl CZE
  20    PAPRSTKA, Tomas CZE
  21    POLNICKY, Radek CZE
  22    FORSTER, Lars SUI
  23    GRAND, Arnaud SUI
  24    LIENHARD, Fabian SUI
  25    WILDHABER, Michael SUI
  26    ECKMANN, Yannick GER
  27    MAYER, Yannick GER
  28    SCHWEIZER, Michael GER
  29    WALSLEBEN, Max GER
  30    KAISER, Cody USA
  31    MCDONALD, Zach USA
  32    BRAIDOT, Daniele ITA
  33    BRAIDOT, Luca ITA
  34    FALASCHI, Bryan ITA
  35    SILVESTRI, Elia ITA
  36    SMARZARO, Igor ITA
  37    KONWA, Marek POL
  38    KOSTECKI, Patryk POL
  39    MALEC, Wojciech POL
  40    PILIS, Bartosz POL
  41    GÓMEZ, Iñigo ESP
  42    GOMEZ, Jon ESP
  43    LASTRA, Jonathan ESP
  45    CLARKSON, Jack GBR
  46    GALLAGHER, Kenta GBR
  47    GRAY, Luke GBR
  48    JAMES, Steven GBR
  49    SANTOS, Vincent Dias Dos LUX
  50    REICHLING, Lex LUX
  51    HANSEN, Kenneth DEN
  52    OLSEN, Emil Arvid DEN
  53    GEHBAUER, Alexander OST
  54    SÖDERQVIST, Ludwig SVE
  55    CÔTE-BOUVETTE, Félix CAN
  56    CHALAS, Jaroslav SLO
  57    MANIKAS, Domas LIT
  58    PREMANIS, Matiss LAT

  1    JAUREGUI, Quentin FRA
  2    KORETZKY, Victor FRA
  3    KOWALSKI, Dylan FRA
  4    SEIGLE, Romain FRA
  5    TURGIS, Anthony FRA
  6    HERMANS, Quinten BEL
  8    SOETE, Daan BEL
  9    AERT, Wout Van BEL
  10    TICHELT, Yorbin Van BEL
  12    GRAB, Dominic SUI
  13    ZUMSTEIN, Dominic SUI
  14    BREZNA, Jan CZE
  15    POKORNY, Karel CZE
  16    VASTL, Jan CZE
  17    DRUMM, Felix GER
  18    HERKLOTZ, Silvio GER
  19    KÖNIG, Marco GER
  20    MÜLLER, Steffen GER
  21    SIEMERMANN, Johannes GER
  22    ARIESEN, Tim NL
  23    BUDDING, Martijn NL
  24    BEEK, Pjotr Van NL
  25    POEL, Mathieu Van Der NL
  26    WEIJERS, Koen NL
  27    WIJKEL, Stan NL
  28    MOSES, Joseph GBR
  29    ROBINSON, Hugo GBR
  30    WELBURN, Alex GBR
  31    BERTOLINI, Gioele ITA
  32    COLLEDANI, Nadir ITA
  33    NICOLA, Luca De ITA
  34    PEDANTE, Francesco ITA
  35    REDAELLI, Riccardo ITA
  36    DILLMAN, Andrew GBR
  37    GORRY, Richard USA
  38    ORTENBLAD, Tobin USA
  39    OWEN, Logan USA
  40    WHITE, Curtis USA
  41    BEAUDOIN, Samuel CAN
  42    PATRY, Yohan CAN
  43    GRABIS, Mateusz POL
  44    KONWA, Piotr POL
  45    LIS, Tobiasz POL
  46    PALUTA, Michal POL
  47    PATRYK, Stosz POL
  48    FRITSCH, Sven POL
  49    CAMPO, Jaime ESP
  50    RIBERA, Jose Manuel ESP
  52    GLAZJA, Ondrej SLO
  53    VOZAR, Simon SLO
  54    NAKAI, Michimasa JAP
  55    SAWADA, Toki JAP
  56    YOKOYAMA, Kota JAP
  57    LINDE, Emil SVE
  58    WAHLQVIST, Dennis SVE
  59    BAIKSTYS, Zigymantas LIT

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