Belgian national coach Carlo Bomans will not finalise his team for the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond until September 7, but he says that if they are on form, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet are certain to be in the squad.
Van Avermaet is Belgium's top-ranked rider in the WorldTour rankings in 17th, thanks to his Tour de France stage victory and podium finishes in Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Gilbert is only ranked 75th, behind Sep Vanmarcke, Jurgen Roelandts, Tiesj Benoot Jens Debusschere, Jens Keukeliere and Stijn Vandenbergh. Boonen, who was injured during the Classics after crashing in Paris-Nice, has since won a stage in the Tour of Belgium and the Rund um Köln.
The three Classics stars should find the Richmond course well suited to their abilities, with three short, sharp climbs on the 16.1km finishing circuit: the cobbled Libby Hill, the 12% gradient 23rd Street climb, and the 300m-long ascent of Governor Street which is inside the final kilometer.
"Obviously, the selection will be a function of the course," Bosmans said, according to Sporza. "Boonen, Gilbert and Van Avermaet are certainties if they are healthy and willing to work towards the World Championship."
The final team will be announced on September 7, which Bomans says is earlier than most years. "The majority of the squad will opt for the [two WorldTour races in] Québec and Montréal and they need to know if they have to travel or not."
He expects to have plenty of riders to choose from in the final selection, and will likely disappoint many riders.
Bomans is also undertaking a preview of the 2016 Olympic Games road race course in Rio at the August 16 test event. Serge Pauwels, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Louis Vervaeke, Dieter Bouvry and Nathan Van Hooydonck will represent the team there.
"It is a purely exploratory mission," Bomans said in Het Laatste Nieuws. "The presence of Serge Pauwels will be important. His characteristics fit perfectly with this kind of course, which seems to have a lot of similarities to the 2013 World Championships in Florence. Serge went there, too."