Belgian coach names teams for Louisville World cyclocross championships
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Belgian coach names teams for Louisville World cyclocross championships

by Ben Atkins at 11:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
No surprises in seven-man elite squad; no place for Tom Meeusen

niels albertBelgian national cyclocross coach Rudy De Bie has announced the list of riders that will be travelling to the United States later this month to compete in the World championships in Louisville, Kentucky. According to the Competition Guide, released by the International Cycling Union (UCI) at the beginning of December, top-ranked nation Belgium is allocated six places in the Elite Men’s race, with an extra spot specifically awarded to reigning champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

With no national ranking applying to rider allocation in the other categories - Elite Women, Under-23 and Junior Men - all nations are allocated five places each.

The seven men selected by De Bie are the top seven from Sunday’s Belgian championships race, although the names were reportedly already chosen beforehand. As well as defending champion Albert therefore, Belgium will be represented by new national champion Klaas Vantornout and teammate Kevin Pauwels (both BKCP-Powerplus), Telenet-Fidea duo Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters, AA Drink’s Bart Aernouts, and king of cyclocross Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony).

Since Belgian riders are almost never known to work together in the World championships, De Bie fully accepts this in his selection.

“I’m not taking any workers,” he told a press conference, according to De Standaard. “Everyone will ride for himself, that is the nature of cyclocross.”

Belgium may also earn an eighth spot in the race if Pauwels manages to overhaul Albert in the World Cup in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, this weekend. The World Cup leader is also specifically allocated a place at the World championships, but right now this is Albert; if Pauwels manages to overcome his 16-point deficit to the World champion, he too will earn a specific place for himself, freeing up another of the six spots to one of the three reserves.

Hoping Pauwels can do this are his Sunweb-Napoleon Games teammate Jim Aernouts, Jan Denuwelaere (Style & Concept), and Albert’s BKCP-Powerplus teammate Dieter Vanthourenhout.

The inclusion of Wellens, and omission of his Telenet-Fidea teammate Tom Meeusen - who is not even listed among the three reserves - may be to do with the ongoing investigation into an alleged blood-doping doctor [although the rider himself is reportedly involved only as a witness - ed] since Meeusen is currently the sixth best Belgian in the UCI classification. The fact that two-time champion Wellens sits just 23rd in the rankings owes a lot to the fact that he missed a good deal of last season with serious illness.

At last year’s World championships, on the dunes of Koksijde, East Flanders, host nation Belgium took the top seven places with its seven riders. With the absence of two-time World champion Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) of the Czech Republic, they may well do so again, but De Bie is taking nothing for granted.

"This is a fast course, not technically difficult,” he said. “I hope it rains…

“The danger comes from all sides. I think of names like Lars Van der Haar (Rabobank Giant, Netherlands), Radomír Šimunek (BKCP-Powerplus, Czech Republic), Francis Mourey (Francs, FDJ) or Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Racing, Switzerland).”

For the Elite Women’s race, the selectors have eschewed the option to take the full compliment of five riders, choosing just newly re-crowned Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) - the 2012 bronze medallist - and Ellen Van Loy (Melbotech). These, realistically, are the only two Belgian women to have challenged in the major races this season, with the World championships looking likely to be a battle between five-time rainbow jersey Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, and nine-time US champion Katie Compton.

In the other two categories Belgium, unsurprisingly, uses the whole compliment, with the Under-23 men’s team led by new and outgoing national champions Laurens Sweeck and Dietse Bosmans [Bosmans elected to ride the Elite championship race on Sunday - ed]. The five-man junior team will be led by new Belgian champion Yannick Peeters, the son of Omega Pharma-Quick Step directeur sportif, and former Classics powerhouse, Wilfried.

Belgian National Team selections for 2013 World cyclocross championships, Louisville, USA, February 2nd-3rd

Elite Men
Niels Albert, Bart Aernouts, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Rob Peeters, Klaas Vantornout, Bart Wellens

Jim Aernouts, Jan Denuwelaere, Dieter Vanthourenhout

Elite Women
Sanne Cant, Ellen Van Looy

Under-23 Men
Wietse Bosmans, Jens Adams, Laurens Sweeck, Wout Van Aert, Michael Vanthourenhout, Gianni Vermeersch

Toon Aerts, Tim Merlier, Daan Soete

Junior Men
Ben Boets, Nicolas Cleppe, Kobe Goossens, Quinten Hermans, Yannick Peeters

Thijs Aerts, Jonas Degroote, Thomas Joseph


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