Shimano Athletes Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France and Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands each made history in their own way at the 2015 Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. Mathieu, a late addition to the Men's Elite category, became the youngest UCI Cyclocross World Champion at the age of 20. The victory was Mathieu's fourth World Championship, after twice winning in the Cyclocross Junior Men category and in the Road Junior Men race in 2013. In the Women's race, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot edged out Sanne Cant with a strong sprint finish. Pauline's victory was symbolic as it followed her Road World Championship victory, and set up her Mountain Bike Cross Country World Championship victory, making Pauline the first person in the history of cycling to simultanously hold the World Road title, World Cyclocross title and World Mountain BIke title at the same time.
On January 31, 2016 the top cyclocross athletes from around the world will meet in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium for a chance to compete for the treasured rainbow stripes. The following cyclocross athletes have all had strong seasons leading up to the World Championships.
1. Mathieu van der Poel
Don't call it a comeback for the reigning World Champion Mathieu van der Poel, who missed the first two World Cup races due to an injury. The Dutch National Champion has made quite the statement by winning the last four World Cup races (Namur, Zolder, Lignieres-en-Berry & Hoogerheide).
2. Sven Nys
The cyclocross legend from Belgium announced his retirement earlier this year. The decorated racer has won two World Championships, seven World Cups and over 140 competitive races throughout his career. Sven kicked off the season falling just short in Round 1 of the World Cup at CrossVegas, finishing in 2nd place. He then continued on to finish Round 2 in Valkenburg in 3rd place. After gaining some momentum, Sven earned his astonishing 50th World Cup race victory winning Round 3 in Koksidige.
3. Lars van der Haar
Lars van der Haar only finished outside the Top-5 in once a World Cup race this season. Lars has proven to be consistent threat in all conditions. His efforts were recognized at the first-ever European Elite Cyclocross Championships, where Lars became the first cyclocross athlete to wear the blue jersey. Lars was the only top-level rider who was also a member of a UCI WorldTour Team (Giant-Alpecin). His consistency throughout the World Cup circuit earned him a 2nd place finish in the World Cup General Classification.
4. Sanne Cant
Sanne Cant has had quite the season, amassing four victories in the SuperPrestige, four victories in the Bpost Bank Trophy Circuit, and three World Cup victories. Her success in the World Cup won her the overall title in the Elite Women category. Sanne also earned the blue jersey as the first-ever European Cyclocross National Championship alongside Lars van der Haar. To top things off, the Belgium rider earned her 6th straight National Championship in Cyclocross.
5. Eva Lechner
The Italian National Cyclocross Champion started the season off with a 2nd place finish at CrossVegas. Eva has consistently found the podium throughout the World Cup season, with two third place finishes and a victory at Valkenburg, earning her a second place finish in the World Cup overall standings.
6. Katie Compton
After battling some challenging health issues, Katie Compton has made her way back into the UCI Cyclocross Circuit. Katie won her 12th straight USA Cyclocross National Championship last month, making her the most decorated American Cyclocross athlete in history. She has finished in the Top-5 three times throughout the season, with her top performance resulting in a 2nd place finish at Heusden-Zolder. With the World Championships returning to Belgium, Katie will look to add a fifth medal to her World Championship collection.