Belgian national coach Carlo Bomans has stressed the importance of the Clasica San Sebastian and the Tour of Poland in order to ensure that he has a full complement of nine riders at his disposal for the world championships road race in Florence in September.
Only the top 10 countries in the UCI WorldTour national classification are allowed to field teams of nine riders for the world championships. Belgium currently lies 10th in the national standings and risks racing with just six riders if it slips outside the top ten. The Clasica San Sebastian and the Tour of Poland are the last counting events before the UCI announces the squad sizes for the Worlds.
“It will be very tight to maintain a place in the top 10, it’s not earned yet because two countries are really very close – the United States and Poland,” Bomans told La Dernière Heure.
Belgium currently has 412 points, just 18 ahead of the USA, with Poland a further 21 back in 12th. The Belgian national squad delivered Philippe Gilbert to the rainbow jersey in Valkenburg last year but this time around, the national team risks paying a price for the low-key collective showing by Belgian riders at the Classics.
“It’s important that we score points in these last two events and the riders are aware of the situation,” said Bomans, who is hopeful that BMC duo Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet can combine to give Belgium some breathing room in San Sebastian on Saturday.
“It would be ideal if one of them won on Saturday,” Bomans said. “I hope for a Belgian win on Saturday, it doesn’t matter from whom. But the ideal would be a win for a Gilbert or a Van Avermaet because the WorldTour national classification is calculated by taking into account the top five ranked riders from each nation in the individual classification.”
Van Avermaet is Belgium’s leading points scorer to date in 2013, as he lies 25th in the individual standings with 140 points to his name. Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Gilbert, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) and Ben Hermans (RadioShack Leopard) are the other contributors to Belgium’s tally.