The 2011 Belgacom Mountain Bike Grand Prix, Belgium's cross country national series, will begin in Stoumont this weekend on May 14. Five total races will comprise the series with the best four rounds counting toward the overall.
A technically and physically demanding course has been designed on the slopes of the Lienne Valley. World Champion Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida), Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (Orbea), cyclo-cross star Sven Nys, Kevin Van Hoovels and Nicolas Vermeulen are among the favorites signed up to compete.
Nys, who is the ambassador for the Belgian cross country series, will compete in all five rounds as he prepares for the 2012 London Olympic Games. In addition to the Belgacom races, Nys will also race the UCI World Cups in Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic, the European Championships and the world championships. He may make appearances in a limited number of road races.
"If I finish in the top 12 of the European Championships this year, I would have normally qualified for London," said Nys. "This is my big priority for this summer, so I have to race in many mountain bike events and build my good form on the road. I know that I will not be as strong at the beginning of cyclo-cross season, but I'll be back on 'cross form by next November."
The second-year series heads next to Averbode on June 2, Boom on June 18, Sankt-Vith on July 2 and Geraardsbergen on July 9.
For more information on the Belgacom MTB Grand Prix, visit www.belgacomgp.be.
2011 Belgacom MTB Grand Prix
May 14: MTB Cup Stoumont (UCI Cat. 2)
June 2: Averbode MTB Cup (UCI Cat. 1)
June 18: MTB Cup Boom (UCI Cat. 2)
July 2: MTB Cup Sankt-Vith (UCI Cat. 2)
July 9: Geraardsbergen MTB Cup (UCI Cat. 1)