The competition for selection to the Belgian elite men's team at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships is always fierce, and this year is no exception. While defending champion Sven Nys, and the top-ranked Belgians Niels Albert, Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels, Tom Meeusen and Rob Peeters have earned their places, the final spot on the 7-man team is still up for grabs.
Belgian national coach Rudy De Bie will decide after the Nommay World Cup this weekend which of three riders will complete the team: former world champion Bart Wellens (16th in the UCI rankings), who has been sidelined part of the year with a back injury, the always-competitive Bart Aernouts (14th), or 19th-ranked newcomer Wietse Bosmans.
In the elite women's race, Belgium will not fill out its complete allocation of six riders, choosing only to send four: Sanne Cant, Githa Michiels, Loes Sels and Ellen Van Loy.
"That was done on the basis of a thorough analysis," said De Bie. "If you look at the results in various competitions at the international level, then you can really only take four women to the World Championships. To take other Belgian riders who place 30th or 35th in regular competition to a World Championship makes little sense.
"It's not about money, but about quality. They need to make the selection. Other criteria do not apply."
For the U23 race, Jens Adams, Toon Aerts, Laurens Sweeck, Wout Van Aert, Michael Vanthournhout and Gianni Vermeersch have earned selections, while Tim Merlier, Daan Soete and Jens Vandekinderen are reserves.
Juniors Thijs Aerts, Kobe Goossens, Eli Iserbyt, Thomas Joseph, Yannick Peeters and Jelle Schuermans will be backed up by reserves Stijn Caluwé, Gianni Van Martine and Elias Van Hecke.