Koksijde is one of the classic cyclocross races. Countless World Cup races and a legendary World Championships took place on the dunes of Koksijde. Those who were there, will not forget the 2012 Worlds. The race in 2012 were held in Belgium after a longer hiatus and it created such hype, that an unprecedented crowd, 62.000 people witnessed Niels Albert’s win on a windy February afternoon.
Though the size of the crowd will certainly be smaller than that of 2012, it always draws big and international crowd, not least by the large number of visiting Brits, given its proximity to Calais, making it a perfect day-trip for the cross-crazy in the UK.
The main feature of the course is a long, sandy stretch. Unlike a lot of other courses, here, the sand is part of the natural habitat and while the organisers keep altering the layout of the section every year, it remains what it is: long, lung-bursting trial of power and skill.
Among the women, I expect a big battle between Sanne Cant, an excellent rider on the sand, and Katie Compton, who’s simply in great form at the moment. Nikki Harris grabbed a podium spot last year and last week’s race in Gavere showed that she is in good form, too.
Among the elite men, the course favours stronger, more powerful riders, so Lars van der Haar will have to work very hard to stay in the white, overall leader’s jersey after the race on Saturday. An obvious pick is Sven Nys, who won here back in 2012 and Kevin Pauwels, who seems to be in form again. Tom Meeusen is my secret favourite: he tackled the sandy section of Ruddervoorde with a lot of confidence and he was in contention for the win at Asper-Gavere up until the very end.
Tune in on the UCI’s Youtube channel for the women’s race at 1:30pm CET and 3:00pm CET for the elite men’s race.
13 degrees, overcast and there is a chance for a shower or two.[hr]
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Spa is a brand new venue, an unknown quantity. Riders weren’t allowed to train on the course beforehand and as Koksijde is just a day before the race, they will only see the course on Sunday.
You can check out the course below, ridden by the course’ designer, Erwin Vervecken.
The weather should be similar to Saturday’s, cold, overcast but not much rain.
Tune in to Vier at 2:30pm CET, there will be a short ‘samenvatting’ of the women’s and the U23 race, the elite men’s race starts at 3:00pm CET.