Belgium's Superprestige series kicks off in Ruddervoorde this weekend, a town outside Brugge, not far from the coast of this cyclo-cross crazy country. In its 26th year, the series, now sponsored by Nissan, has been dominated by Rabobank's Sven Nys in recent years. Nys has won seven of the last ten years, coming in second during the 2004-2005 season to his nemesis, Belgian Champion Bart Wellens. His Rabobank team-mate Richard Groenendaal won in 2000-2001 and 1997-1998.
The Ruddervoorde course, with its sandy pits, steep embankments and paved finish will favour the speedy legs of Nys, but he will face strong competition from the Fidea team, which can challenge with either Wellens, World Champion Erwin Vervecken, or possibly Czech rider Zdenek Stybar. Nys and Wellens have taken turns winning in Ruddervoorde over the past six years, but they'll have to watch out for the young Palmans-Crans rider Niels Albert, who took the win in the opening Belgian race in Erpe-Mere.
Nys already has two wins this season, having handed Albert and Wellens defeat in the GP Neerpelt and GP Shimano, but the riders will have the unusual situation of having to race after a weekend off. There was no UCI racing in Belgium or the Netherlands because the weekend was held open for the World Cup in the USA, which never got off the ground. Erwin Vervecken took his first win in the USA in Southampton, and could give his team the boost it needs to overcome the power of Nys if he can overcome the jet-lag of his trans-Atlantic flight.
- October 14 Super Prestige #1 Ruddervoorde
- November 04 Super Prestige #2 Hamme-Zogge
- November 18 Super Prestige #3 Asper-Gavere
- November 25 Super Prestige #4 Gieten
- December 09 Super Prestige #5 Veghel-Eerde
- December 30 Super Prestige #6 Diegem
- February 03 Super Prestige #7 Hoogstraten
- February 16 Super Prestige #8 Vorselaar