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Cyclo-Cross World Cup #3 - CDM
Pijnacker, Netherlands, November 11, 2007
By Laura Weislo
The World Cup heads to the Netherlands for the third round after hitting the top ranked cyclo-cross nations of Belgium and the Czech Republic. Sven Nys is in his usual position as leader in the UCI rankings, but this year will wear the new blue kit which signifies this honour rather than the traditional white skinsuit of years past. The colour should be better at hiding the spatters of mud which are sure to be flying in Pijnacker.
The riders will face a course which favours those who can put out plenty of power over those who prefer to finesse the technical sections. With a majority of long, straight sections on relatively flat, albeit muddy, ground and sections of sand, the course could easily sap the strength of those who burn their matches too early.
The course also features a man-made bridge, which could cause traffic jams if it becomes slick with mud, and a specially engineered "mountain", which is simply a high berm with a run-up on one side.
Nys has owned the parcours of this southern Dutch town, which is located northwest of Rotterdam, for the past three years, and has stormed through the mix of mud, sand, pavement and man-made obstacles carrying the anger of his defeat in the 2003-2004 season. That year, the World Cup was contested by national teams, and Pijnacker was the last round of the season.
Nys needed a top five finish to win the overall, but was passed at the line by four riders of his Belgian national team, including Bart Wellens and Erwin Vervecken, pushing Nys into 7th on the day. This gave race winner Richard Groenendaal the overall win in the World Cup, and led Nys to declare war on his Belgian competitors.
Since then, World Cups have gone to being contested with trade teams, the race has moved to November, and Nys has gone on to win every year. His first victory here came in the 2004-2005 season after his Dutch team-mate Groenendaal crashed after leading for much of the race, and the following year the pair worked together to unhitch Gerben De Knegt. Nys powered away in the last laps to take his second win. Last year, Nys' closest competitor was Frenchman Francis Mourey, but the Belgian's power through the sand and mud was too much, and Nys won by 30 seconds.
Compton is serious about holding a high position in the rankings in order to secure a prime start position for the World Championships in Treviso, but is also keen to size up her competition. She'll have to contend with the home town favourite, Daphny Van Den Brand, a four time winner in Pijnacker.
With weather forecasts calling for scattered showers and seasonably cool temperatures after relatively warm and dry conditions in Kalmthout and Tabor, the Pijnacker World Cup promises to be the first real down 'n dirty high-stakes rumble of the year.