Preview. Round 6 of the Cyclocross World Cup this weekend takes place in Flamanville, France. On the 3rd of December the riders make the trip over to Belgium's southern neighbour for the first World Cup of the month.
Slightly muddy conditions but a circuit that is different than that of the last two French races. A park cross but one that is more difficult. Although the conditions won't be atrocious the circuit is tougher, more technical and less explosive. We've got two difficult stair sections, planks, lots of steep banks - however they don't include much running.
It is a race where I expect attacks from early on in the men's race, teams can play with their numbers for sure. However there isn't much room to surprise, the circuit isn't overly technical, we don't have sand, the climbs will make for a big decision in the race as they are relatively hard and differences will be created early on. Throughout the race fatigue will set and they will become even harder.
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The race misses the main three figures in the field. Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse miss the race to prepare for future goals, and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado is forced out of the race through illness. In addition second place in the World Cup Zoe Bäckstedt is also absent. This leaves a thinned down field, but I wouldn't say a more open race. Lucinda Brand took a very strong win last week in Dublin and it will be quite difficult to beat her in this race, where difficult climbs lay ahead.
It's not an overly technical circuit, however the field will feature a lot of depth, and thee should be a quite open and exciting fight for the podium. Marie Schreiber, Blanka Kata Vas and Leonie Bentveld lead the charge for the youngsters in the field and I would assume the first two can quite well fight for a top spot. In the opposite side we have Shirin van Anrooij who's returning to racing this weekend, very talented but not yet with the race rhythm. We've got the Dutchwomen Inge van der Heijden, Annemarie Worst, Manon Bakker and Denise Betsema; and figures such as Maghalie Rochette, Marion Norbert Riberolle and home rider Hélene Clauzel who can aim for a strong result.
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We've got another round of Baloise - Trek Lions against the rest and honestly, the ground is in favour of the team of the moment. Lars van der Haar and Joris Nieuwenhuis will find a very suiting route with a lot of small but difficult climbs on the bike. The latter won in Boom again very convincingly and thrives in these tough circuits. Pim Ronhaar thrives in the mud, it won't be as ideal to him this week however a third World Cup win would not come as a huge surprise. Then Thibau Nys, who in his early-season legs could dominate, right now no but if his back holds up he can absolutely fight for a strong result and even the win.
We've got a huge field lined up. Eli Iserbyt continues in the lead but it is not a luxurious one, his closest chasers are all present. He's seemingly been losing some explosivity in the past few weeks and feeling the fatigue so it definitely won't be easy to keep a stable lead. Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal have Michael Vanthourenhout who is well suited to this course but it's unsure if he'll have great legs after the bad luck of the past few weeks. Niels Vandeputte is quite a good rider for a circuit like this I believe, whilst Laurens Sweeck is a wildcard but he did very well in Dublin and could go for his first win of the season.
Furthermore we'll have plenty outsiders who can fight for a spot in the Top10 or... As has been clear over the past few weeks, Top5 or even more. Racing has been quite open. Ryan Kamp, Corné van Kessel, Jens Adams, Joran Wyseure, Toon Vandebosch, Witse Meeussen, Jente Michels, Lander Loockx and Kevin Kuhn are all included in this star-studded field.
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The women's race will start at 13:45 local time and is estimated to finish at 14:35 local time. The men's race is set to start at 15:10 local time and is estimated to finish at around 16:15 local time.
You can watch the broadcast of the race at the UCI website; GCN+/Eurosport Player internationally. The channels which will broadcast the race will include Sporza and Proximus (Belgium), Flobikes (Canada) and NOS.nl (Netherlands).
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*** Lucinda Brand
** Marie Schreiber, Annemarie Worst
* Blanka Kata Vas, Inge van der Heijden, Shirin van Anrooij
*** Joris Nieuwenhuis
** Lars van der Haar, Pim Ronhaar
* Niels Vandeputte, Laurens Sweeck, Eli Iserbyt
Preview written by Rúben Silva.