Worth watching - GP Sven Nys Baal

One of my favorite New Year's Day traditions is the GP Sven Nys cyclocross race from Baal. While many other races come and go and pop up on various days on the calendar, the GP Sven Nys is generally always on January 1, the perfect way to ring in the new year.

Kerstperiode racing

With it's traditional January 1 date, the GP Sven Nys is sort of the unofficial conclusion to Kerstperiode, the special block of back-to-back races that take place between Christmas and New Year's.

Named in honor of Sven Nys

You know you've arrived when they name the race after you... the legend Sven Nys won this one 12 out of 16 times, while he was still active. American Katie Compton won this one a couple times too during her lengthy career.

Now his son Thibau will try to pickup where father left off. You may have seen this video of Thibau riding the stairs at Baal, skipping the traditional dismount:

Part of the X²O Badkamers Trofee series

Historically, the GP Sven Nys has been part of the Trofee (trophy) series, which has been re-named a few times to reflect changing title sponsors - currently, it's the X²O Badkamers Trofee, but has previously been called the DVV Trofee, BPost Bank Trofee, and Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee.

New teams, jerseys, and bike sponsors

Pro cycling contracts run from January 1 - December 31, so in road cycling and mountain biking, you see the same riders on the same teams all season long. In cyclocross, however, a typical season straddles the January 1 date when new contracts kick in.

That means riders change teams, coaches, and equipment like bikes and drivetrain components right in the middle of the season! It can also be difficult to spot your favorite riders initially, because they change team jerseys as well! That makes the GP Sven Nys sort of the "coming out party" for all the new kit.

Riders to watch in the GP Sven Nys

Pros are wrapping up the Kerstperiode block with lots of racing in their legs. Currently Lars Van der Haar clings to a tiny lead in the X²O Badkamers Trofee over Eli Iserbyt. Iserbyt, however, just announced that he will skip Baal and Koksijde - essentially waving the white flag for the series overall title. That puts Cameron Mason at 1:15 down as the primary challenger for the series.

Looking at the single day alone outside of the overall X²O Badkamers Trofee, GP Sven Nys Baal will feature all of the "big 3" of 'cross: Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, and Tom Pidcock. Together, they own the last 9 world titles! 

Also keep an eye out for Zdeněk Štybar in his retirement tour - he's formed a new team for the sole purpose of getting to the 2024 cyclocross World Championship in Tábor, Czech Republic (Czechia - his home country) - and making it the final race of his amazing career.

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