The Belgian Cycling Federation announced today the riders who will contest the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. Twenty riders plus nine reserves will make up Belgium's squad for 'cross Worlds, taking place for the first time on U.S. soil in Louisville, Kentucky, February 2-3.
The perennial cyclo-cross powerhouse won six medals at last year's 'cross Worlds on home turf in Koksijde, including a remarkable sweep of the first seven places in the elite men's event. All six medalists return to compete in 2013, although 2012 junior men's silver medalist Wout Van Aert will this year represent Belgium in the U23 men's ranks.
Six of the seven elite men's riders who dominated affairs in Koksijde return in 2013, including the podium of Niels Albert, Rob Peeters and Kevin Pauwels. Also returning from last year's squad include newly crowned national champion Klaas Vantornout, Sven Nys and Bart Aernouts. Tom Meeusen, recently questioned concerning his connection to Dr. Chris Mertens in an alleged blood doping scheme, finished fourth in 2012 but was not selected this year. Instead, former world champion Bart Wellens gets the nod to complete Belgium's seven-rider elite men's squad.
"For me, this was the easiest world championship squad in years," Belgium's coach Rude De Bie told Nieuwsblad.be. "The absence of Meeusen is particularly hard, but there is simply nothing to be done."
Sanne Cant and Ellen Van Loy will contest the elite women's world championship. Cant, the bronze medalist from the 2012 'cross Worlds, successfully defended her Belgian national title on Sunday, with Van Loy taking the silver medal.
Belgium's six-rider U23 men's roster will be led by 2012 Worlds silver medalist and current World Cup leader Wietse Bosmans plus new Belgian U23 champion Laurens Sweeck.
Five riders will contest the junior men's championship, led by newly crowned national champion Yannick Peeters plus Quinten Hermans, currently ranked fourth overall in the junior men's World Cup. .
Belgium's roster for 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships
Reserves: Jim Aernouts, Jan Denuwelaere, Dieter Vanthourenhout
Ellen Van Loy
Wout Van Aert
Reserves: Toon Aerts, Tim Merlier, Daan Soete
Reserves: Thijs Aerts, Jonas Degroote, Thomas Joseph