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2020 World Championships Predictions: Day 2

Day two of the World Championships kicks off with the Junior Men, followed by the U23 Women and Elite Men. It promises to be another action packed day. In addition to our predictions, we provide five reasons Mathieu van der Poel wont win. You can check out our preview and our day one predictions.

Junior Men

If the Netherlands wants to sweep Worlds, this is the toughest category for them to do so. While we did not pick him for the win, if Ryan Kamp wins the U23, it will ultimately come down to this race.

The name Nys has dominated cross for decades and with the arrival of Thibau Nys, it’s back on everyone’s mind. Nys won 17 races this year and nearly swept the World Cup. Nys crashed in Hoogerheide and still made it back to the front to compete for the win. He’s our pick for Sunday.

Behind Nys it could be an all Belgian affair as they bring the strongest team to the Junior Men’s race. However, Switzerland’s Dario Lillo, who won in Hoogerheide last week, looks very strong. He’s one of our picks to podium. Our other pick is Belgium’s Lennert Belmans.

So, can the Dutch pull off an upset? If they can it will come from Tibor del Grosso. Grosso has had a solid season and is a consistent top-five finisher. While we don’t think he will podium, you never know.

  1. Thibau Nys (BEL)
  2. Dario Lillo (SWI)
  3. Lennert Belmans (BEL)

U23 Women

Another women’s category and another Dutch winner. Inge van der Heijden is the undisputed favorite and we believe she will bring home the title on Sunday. She won Worlds last year and has had multiple top-five finishes in the Elite races.

Behind van der Heijden, France’s Marion Norbert-Riberolle, Hungary’s Kata Blanka Vas, Britain’s Anna Kay and America’s Katie Clouse all have a shot at the podium.

We would love to see Kata Blanka Vas win. Pure bias here. Hungary has never won a World Championship in any discipline. Laszlo Bodrogi has delivered Hungary three World Championship medals (all in the time trial), but never reached the top step. In 1997, he was second in the U23 TT. As an Elite/Pro, he was third in 2000 and second in 2007. While we don’t think she will win, we think she will podium.

Beyond Vas and van der Heijden, we are torn. Britain’s Anna Kay has not won a race this year, but has had plenty of podium appearances, including a third place finish in the Elite Women’s British National Championships. America’s U23 National Champion, Katie Clouse (who’s only 18) is another rider we strongly think will reach the podium. Not playing the homer card is tough in this one. Kay leads the head-to-head 5 – 3, so we are going with her.

  1. Inge van der Heijden (NED)
  2. Kata Blanka Vas (HUN)
  3. Anna Kay (GBR)

Elite Men

If everything goes according to plan, Mathieu van der Poel will win his third Elite World Championship title on Sunday in Switzerland. So what statistic can we pull out to give some doubt to this (aside from a crash or mechanical)?

  • Van der Poel has only raced in Switzerland once. That was the 2018 Bern World Cup…where he won.
  • He has won four World Championships in his career, but only one on an even year in 2012.
  • There has never been a Dutch Elite Men’s and Women’s World Champion in the same year.
  • Only six riders have won a World Championship at the age of 25. The last one was Zdenek Stybar in 2010. Before that it was Bart Wellens in 2003. Roland Liboton (1982), Eric de Vlaeminck (1970), Rolf Wolfshohl (1963) and Renato Longo (1962) are the others.
  • No rider has won a Junior Men’s World Championship and more than two Elite titles. Niels Albert is the only other rider to win a Junior title and two Elite titles. Lars Boom, Richard Groenendaal and Radomir Simunek Sr. each won a Junior title, but only one Elite title.

Ok, we’ve had our fun.

No matter who wins, the Belgians have been dominating Worlds for decades, often placing six, seven, or even eight riders in the top ten. The last time Belgium put fewer than six riders in the top ten was in 2017, where only for Belgians finished inside the top ten. With that said, they did finish first and third.

Toon Aerts and Eli Iserbyt lead a strong Belgian contingent that should place two riders on the podium. Wout van Aert has been on the podium at worlds for five straight years (every year he’s been an Elite), but we expect that streak to come to an end. Laurens Sweeck won Belgian Nationals due to good legs and team tactics. However, he seems to have dropped of a bit.

Tom Pidcock will race his first every Elite World Championships this weekend and is one of a few riders who is capable of breaking up the Belgain domination.

Looking to replicate the excitement of 1995 are five Swiss riders. Not a single one of them has won a World Championship in the past and only Simon Zahner has finished on a Worlds podium. He was third in the U23 race in 2005. Zahner also holds the distinction of the most experienced rider in the race. With that said, he also is the only one of the five to finish in the top ten (twice) in the Elite race.

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (NED)
  2. Toon Aerts (BEL)
  3. Eli Iserbyt (BEL)

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