A Fast And Open Course In Essen
The Ethias Cross series returns on Saturday for its fifth round. The race will be held in Essen, Belgium, just a stone’s throw from the Netherland border.
The undulating course is by and large a fast and open affair that has lent itself to the formation of a relatively large lead group in years past.
While technical features on the course are fairly limited, the finale can be thrilling with the most crucial challenges arriving in the final 500 meters of the course. Riders must run up a small stair set, remount, then negotiate a series of small steps which are rideable, but can trip riders up if they do not get the approach right.
Rain is expected to arrive in Essen this Friday and linger throughout the weekend. With the ground saturated before the racers take to the course, and moisture predicted for race day, expect to see muddy and rutted racing with deteriorating conditions throughout the day.
World Champions Return
Essen does not always draw the most star studded lineup in cyclocross, but in 2019 that is simply not the case.
The women’s field will be headlined by Marianne Vos. The seven time world cyclocross champion will be opening her season in Essen. Vos is only expected to compete in seven races this year as she builds towards the World Championships in Switzerland.
The men’s field will also feature the return of a world champion. Zdenek Stybar will be making his return to cyclocross in Essen.
Stybar’s focus remains on road racing with his Deceuninck Quick Step team, but the Czech rider has named an eight race cyclocross program this season, which he believes will help him build fitness ahead of the 2020 road season. The majority of the races Stybar will contest will take place throughout Belgium’s Christmas block.