The second cyclo-cross race on the Belgian calendar will see most of the sport's top names assemble in Neerpelt for the Fidea Grand Prix, but last year's winner and 2009 World Champion Niels Albert is still "only at 90%" after falling ill last week. Albert missed the opening round last weekend in Erpe-Mere due to gastroenteritis.
Last week's winner, Sven Nys, will be back for the first race of the season to be broadcast live on television. "It's a very technical 'cross race, so if you win here you're set for the rest of the season."
Klaas Vantornout will be looking for a better result than in Erpe-Mere, where he crashed out of contention, but is still feeling good about his efforts last week. "I unfortunately had a little bad luck, but I can feel good about it. The course was pretty heavy, and so it was best to wait until the final sprint. Many others clearly were going deeper than me. With just over two laps to go I accelerated and got a nice gap right away. I felt really good."
Also on the start list are last week's podium finishers Kevin Pauwels and Bart Aernouts, as well as Bart Wellens, Radomir Simunek, Tom Meeusen, Sven Vanthourenhout, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Thijs Al, Enrico Franzoi and Philipp Walsleben.
World Champion Zdenek Stybar will not make his debut in Belgium until next month.
The full list of participants and more information on the Grand Prix Fidea Neerpelt on www.fideacyclocrossclassics.be.