Italy hosts battle for 'cross supremacy

Returning World Champion Erwin Vervecken

Returning World Champion Erwin Vervecken (Image credit: Isosport)

By Brecht Decaluwé

The men's race in Treviso will attract the biggest crowds, and the organisers expect some 20000 (non-paying) spectators along the Le Bandie course. They will mainly support local hero Enrico Franzoi, UCI leader Sven Nys, popular Bart Wellens, young ace Lars Boom and returning champion Erwin Vervecken.

To host the World Championships an organiser needs to host a World Cup event first, and last year that event was won by a French man who combines road cycling at the highest level with cyclo-cross, Francis Mourey. The Française des Jeux rider is one of the favourites for the win on Sunday in the men's race, where Belgian veteran Erwin Vervecken is defending the title he has captured in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

The big favourite for the win in the men's was UCI leader Sven Nys. Despite winning four out of eight World Cup races, and despite leading all the regularity competitions, the Belgian will not be top favourite. The Belgian has been bugged by an exhausted body, mainly caused by racing too many races at 100 percent and his poor form during the last two World Cup races in Liévin and Hoogerheide has thrown around affairs for the Belgian 'cannibal.'

The 31 year-old often failed to turn his favourite role into a win at the World Championships in the past, capturing 'only' one title in 2005. This time the Belgian might take profit from his role as an outsider, as the pressure of being the top favourite is not on his shoulders anymore.

Nys' young team-mate Lars Boom has shown himself well this season, and the Dutchman seems to have the arrogance and the guts to capture the world title in his first year among the professional's. The 23 year-old has won three World Cup races this season, with the last two being among them. The reigning Under 23 Cyclo-cross World Champion is – just like Adrie Van Der Poel – successful on the road where he won the recent time trial worlds in Stuttgart.

Continue to the full preview. See also startlist, past winners, the course map and schedule.

Also see updated Men's, Women's and U23 and Junior UCI rankings.

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