By Brecht Decaluwé
The Belgian team for the cyclo-cross world championships will have a three-man advantage over most other countries, giving them an even stronger bid for the title than their top-heavy team already had. Normally, one country is allowed to start with five riders at the world championships, but due to the fact that the Belgians have the UCI-leader in their ranks - Sven Nys (Rabobank) - they receive an additional starting spot in Hooglede-Gits this month.
The team gets a seventh spot for having the defending world champion, Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), and an eighth spot because Belgium is ranked in the top three of the UCI's cyclo-cross rankings. Belgium leads those rankings ahead of the Czech Republic and The Netherlands.
Last year, Belgium was started with seven riders because Nys was both UCI leader and reigning world champion. The world championships are held on January 28th.