The first round of the 2005-2006 Cyclo-cross World Cup will be held in Kalmthout, Belgium on Sunday. The 10 round series will visit seven countries, finishing in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands on January 22.
The favourites for the first round will be the Belgians, with defending World Cup champion Sven Nys coming off a win in Lebbeke today and hoping to get his World Cup campaign off to a good start tomorrow. His nearest challenger is expected to be his compatriot Bart Wellens, who looks to be nearly back to his best after last year's disappointing season. Wellens already has a win in the first round of the Superprestige in Ruddervoorde to his credit, and will be gunning for another in tomorrow's likely to be muddy race in Kalmthout.
Other Belgians to watch include Sven Vanthourenhout, Erwin Vervecken, and Wim Jacobs. For the Dutch, Gerben De Knegt and Richard Groenendaal will be the favourites, while France will be highlighted by Francis Mourey and John Gadret. America has two starters in Jonathan Page and Jeremy Powers, while the Czechs have Petr Dlask, Zdenek Mlynár and Jiri Pospisil in action. Italy's Enrico Franzoi and Switzerland's Christian Heule are the other outsiders.
In the women's race, look for a battle between Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany), French Laurence Leboucher, and Dutch riders Marianne Vos and Daphny Van den Brand, while Belgians Niels Albert and Tom Meeusen should be the favourites in the U23 and Junior men's races.
10:00 - 10:40 Juniors
11:10 - 12:00 U23 Men
13:15 - 13:55 Women
14:30 - 15.30 Elite Men
2005-2006 World Cup series
Round 1 - October 23: Kalmthout (Bel)
Round 2 - October 29: Tabor (Cze)
Round 3 - November 13: Pijnacker (Ned)
Round 4 - December 4: Wetzikon (Swi)
Round 5 - December 8: Milan (Ita)
Round 6 - December 11: Igorre (Spa)
Round 7 - December 26: Hofstade (Bel)
Round 8 - December 31: Hooglede-Gits (Bel)
Round 9 - January 15: Liévin (Fra)
Round 10 - January 22: Hoogerheide (Ned)