Belgium's male track cyclists will face a heavier workload at this week's World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark as they reshuffle their riders to replace the injured Iljo Keisse.
Keisse was ruled out of the championships after breaking his collarbone in a training crash at the Ballerup Arena, Copenhagen on Monday. The Quick Step rider had been scheduled to race a busy programme that included the point and scratch races, as well as the Madison.
"Months and months of work for this event and then in a moment it was all over," said Keisse, as he described the incident. "I was on Jonathan Dufrasne’s wheel and we were pedalling at over 60km/h when all of a sudden he fell. We were going too fast and there was nothing I could do to avoid the crash. I knew right away my collarbone was broken.
"I’m really sad and disappointed. Everyone knows how much these World Championships meant to me. I’d been working up to them for a long time."
Keisse's forced withdrawal comes after Belgium's other major medal hope, Dominique Cornu, was ruled out of squad as he continues his recovery from illness. The Belgian Cycling Federation's (KBWB) Sports Director Jos Smets told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that the team remained focused, despite the latest setback.
"The guys are still very motivated. For sure, we've had a lot of bad luck," he said. "It's not ideal, but it's better now than before the Olympics, for example. The athletes know what they have to do and realise that this is a part of sport."
Steve Schets has been drafted in to replace Keisse in the Madison, where he will partner Ingmar De Poortere. Schets, who is currently competing at the Tour of Normandy in France, will join the Belgian team in Copenhagen on Wednesday.
De Poortere will also now compete in the points race, in addition to his commitments in the Madison and men's 4000 metre individual pursuit. Belgium's omnium representative Tim Mertens will replace Keisse in the scratch race.