Some of the sport’s top names have been confirmed for the first-ever Dublin round of cyclo-cross’s World Cup on Sunday, with the previously-announced Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tour de France green jersey winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) just two of what is a stunning line-up.
Both were on the list of entries released by organisers Flanders Classics on Tuesday, along with current World Cup overall leader Laurens Sweeck of Belgium (Crelan-Fristads), UCI world ranking leader and 2021/2022 World Cup champion Eli Iserbyt, UCI ranking number two Michael Vanthournhout (both Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) plus the rider who is third in the same rankings, Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions).
Tour de France stage winners Pidcock and van Aert are undoubtedly the best-known in the line-up. They took breaks after a long, demanding road race season and are still building form. The former won the Superprestige Boom on December 3rd and was second in the Kortrijk World Cup event on November 26th.
Van Aert began his cross season last weekend with a fine second place in the Antwerp World Cup round and will only get stronger with each race.
The women’s line-up is also highly impressive, with series leader Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) chasing what would be her sixth win in nine rounds. Round six and seven winner Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Deceuninck) will be one of her chief rivals, while the rider who is fourth in the World Cup classification, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) will hope for her best result thus far in the races.
Multiple world MTB and gravel bike world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers) is lining out in what is only her second World Cup event of the season but has unquestionable talent and will also challenge.
There will be a number of Irish riders in each event. The Team Ireland selection will see national champion Chris Dawson (McGlinchey), national under-23 road race champion Dean Harvey and former national cyclo-cross champion Darnell Moore line out, with six others competing as part of their usual squads.
Eight Irish riders will compete in the women’s event, with the Team Ireland selection national champion Maria Larkin and bronze medallist Roisin Lally.
The event will be held on a purpose-built course on the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown, with tickets available on the UCIcyclocrossworldcup.com website.
A number of Cycling Ireland races will be held at the same venue on Saturday, churning up the grass and guaranteeing the World Cup riders will face a muddy, slippery battle on Sunday.
Irish riders for UCI World Cup round 9, Dublin:
Men: Chris Dawson (McGlinchey), Dean Harvey*, Darnell Moore (each national team riders), Richard Barry, Dillon Corkery, Darragh McCarter, Frank McDermott, Jamie Meehan*, Sean Nolan*
Women: Maria Larkin, Roisin Lally*, Michelle Geoghegan, Darcey Harkness*, Caoimhe May*, Annie Roche*, Stephanie Roche*, Niamh Stephens
* signifies under-23 competitors