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World championships preview: Who'll be on song in Hoogerheide?

The incomparable Sven Nys

The incomparable Sven Nys (Image credit: Cyclingnews.com)

This weekend's Cyclo-cross world championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, promises to be another intriguing event. Despite heading into the titles with the best chances on paper, often the favourites struggle as the winner comes from a corner no-one predicted before the race. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé gives us a little history and the lowdown on the climax to the 2008-09 cyclo-cross season.

Somewhere along the border between Antwerp, Belgium and Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands, there used to be not much else than heathland near an old defensive wall. The old road towards the local airfield turned into a small village and that's what Hoogerheide still is, a small rural town. For all the linguistic scientists among our readers, Hoogerheide can be translated as Higherheath.

Thanks to local hero Adrie van der Poel - multiple Spring Classics winner and former cyclo-cross world champion - once a year the town is turned into a cyclo-cross course, and this year Hoogerheide is hosting the UCI's cyclo-cross World Championships.

For those who don't know about Van der Poel, what follows is a short introduction. Cycling-mad Adrie was one of the best one-day riders during the eighties and he racked up wins in Classics like the Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. In between the road seasons, training maniac Van der Poel choose to compete in cyclo-cross to remain in competition all year long.

It turned out that Van der Poel was among the best in the world in the discipline. During the latter stages of his career Van der Poel focused mainly on cyclo-cross and back in 1996 the Dutchman captured the world title in Montreuil, France.

Read the rest of the preview here.

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.