Editor’s note: This is part II of the world championship preview, including the favorites for the win. Italics indicate sections from part I.
Read part I of the women’s cyclocross world championship preview
Also, check out The calm before the storm: Cyclocross worlds are back in Belgium
BRUSSELS, Belgium (VN) — This much is sure: no one headed for worlds is under pressure like Belgian champion Sanne Cant. While Belgium has more or less owned the podium in men’s cyclocross since the mid-1990s, since the first women’s world championships in 2000, not a single Belgian woman has ever won a world championship medal.
So Belgium pins its hopes to end the long drought on the 21-year-old, who herself has never cracked the top five in a world championships. The question Cant must answer, however, is whether a relatively young and inexperienced racer can hold off three of the most accomplished women’s cyclists in history and claim her country’s first world championship victory ever, and do it on home soil.
Though the question of how the top three are likely to shake out on Sunday may not be easy to answer, it is clear that four-time and defending world champion Marianne Vos will head to Koksijde as the heavy favorite. Vos returned to cyclocross just in time to finish second in the November World Cup in Koksijde has not failed to win a race since. As skilled a bike handler as there is when it comes to ’cross, she also has won Olympic gold on the track and worn rainbow stripes in both track and road. Despite a hard fall two weeks ago in the Lievin, France, World Cup she quickly recovered and won easily. Last week in Hoogerheide, in her home country of the Netherlands, she won her fourth straight World Cup race by nearly a minute and a half.
Nonetheless, Vos has said repeatedly that she takes nothing for granted going into the world championships.
“We know how strong Katie and Daphny are,” she said in Lievin. “But in Koksijde it will be a different race. It’s the worlds, and it’s always different at the worlds. So we’re all focused and of
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