After all the build-up and hype, the 2020 Dübendorf Cyclocross World Championships in Switzerland are here. Riders are currently descending on the greater Zürich area to get ready to preview the course and prepare for the weekend’s races.
The Elite Women’s race takes place on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. EST and the Elite Men’s at 8:30 a.m. EST on Sunday. Races should be streamed on NBC Gold in the U.S. and FloBikes in Canada.
Below are start lists and a look at some of the riders to watch.
Three-time defending World Champ Sanne Cant (IKO – Crelan) heads to Dübendorf as a prohibitive underdog for the second-straight year. Last year, Cant rose to the occasion and dropped a gaggle of Dutch women with two laps to go to capture her third title.
This year, Cant faces an even steeper uphill challenge—yes, we are aware the course is quite flat—with the Dutch quadrumvirate of Ceylin Alvarado (Alpecin – Fenix), Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions), Annemarie Worst (777) and Yara Kastelijn (777) winning all the things this season.
Nearly literally all the things. The Dutch women have won every World Cup since Bern, every Superprestige except Boom, where Alice Maria Arzuffi (777) won, and all the DVV Trofee races. Kastelijn also added a win at the European Championships.
Coming into the season, fans who followed road and mountain bike racing over the summer were likely eagerly anticipating the cyclocross returns of seven-time world champ Marianne Vos (CCC – Liv), current mountain bike World Champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon / SRAM) and Sendypoof Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing CX).
Unfortunately, all three superstars will not be on the start line on Saturday. Vos recently had season-ending surgery, Ferrand-Prevot had surgery for a recurrence of iliac fibrosis and Neff was injured in a mountain bike crash in North Carolina.
A number of riders from the Anglosphere are well-situated to prevent a day of Dutch dominance. Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing CX) is coming off a wide-angle podium finish at Hoogerheide as she heads into her first Cyclocross Worlds as an Elite.
After not winning U.S. Nationals for the first time in many, many years, Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) has been showing strong heading into Worlds. She finished third at Nommay and was riding strong at Hoogerheide before getting caught up in a crash ended her podium bid. Compton finished 15th on Sunday, and it is, of course, worth noting she had a bad result (22nd) at Hoogerheide in 2018 before finishing second at Valkenburg Worlds.
Maghalie Rochette (Specialized x Feedback Sports) was the toast of the cyclocross world earlier this season, and she is also now showing good form heading into Worlds. Rochette finished 8th at Hoogerheide and 11th at Nommay. She has also ridden well at Diegem and the Kerstperiode World Cups.
North Americans Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX) and Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) and adopted North Americans Caroline Mani (Pactimo / Colorado Proud) and Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) are also among riders who have had good results from Kerstperiode on.
In 2016/17, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) won most of the things but then finished a deflating 2nd at Bieles Worlds in 2017.
In 2017/18, Van der Poel won nearly all the things but then got mired in the mud at 2018 Valkenburg Worlds.
Last season, Van der Poel won like all the things and then delivered a brilliant win at Bogense Worlds.
Heading to Dübendorf, Van der Poel has won nearly literally all the things. He enters Sunday’s race with a 14-race winning streak and a 23-1 record on the season. Dating back to last November 2, he has won 49 of his last 50 races.
Needless to say, Van der Poel is the overwhelming favorite to win his third Elite World Championship in Switzerland. As in past years, however, all those wins do not really mean much without the rainbow stripes.
The year’s racing would suggest Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions), Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal), Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal), Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) and others are racing for the moniker of Top Belgian, aka the silver medal.
The battle between Aerts and Iserbyt has been one of the defining storylines of the Elite Men’s field this season. Iserbyt won 12 of the first 13 races in the head-to-head, then Aerts ripped off a streak of 7 wins and Iserbyt countered by winning the first 3 head-to-heads of 2019. Of course, to throw a bit of a wrench in things, Aerts finished second at Hoogerheide, ahead of Iserbyt.
Sweeck had a career day at Belgian Nationals Floaty McFloatFloat Cross and will be wearing the Belgian tricolour for the next year, and Van Aert has ridden well in his condensed cyclocross comeback. Other Belgies looking for season-defining results include Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) and Quinten Hermans (Tormas CX Team).
For the rest of the Dutch contingent, Corne van Kessel (Tormans CX Team) has shown podium potential in the Superprestige and DVV Trofee series and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions) has finished as high as second at Worlds before. Of course, if cyclocross advanced metrics are a guide, at least one of Van Kessel and Van der Haar seems destined for a finish in the Podium Scrub Zone.
Last year, Marcel Meisen (Alpecin – Fenix) was the only non-Benelux Elite Men’s rider in the top 10 at Worlds. Felipe Orts Lloret (Teika – Gsport – BH) joins as a rider with results that suggest a shot at reaching the top 10.
North America is sending a small contingent of riders this year. Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano), Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) are representing the U.S. and Michael van den Ham (Easton / Giant p/b Transitions LifeCare) and Cameron Jette representing Canada.
Elite start lists are below. Stay tuned for start lists for the U23 and Junior races.