Verstraeten returns in Spain, Dieter Vanthourenhout squeezed out
Jan Verstraeten will return to World Cup competition this week after he was named in the Belgian selection for the fifth round of the International Cycling Union (UCI) series in Igorre, Spain, on Sunday, December 6.
The KDL Trans NV rider missed the Koksijde round of the series last week as Bart Wellens made his own, long-awaited return from illness. Wellens recorded a solid 13th place finish, but prior to the race Verstraeten and compatriot Dieter Vanthourenhout had protested the inclusion of the former World Champion in the squad. The latter was later included in the Koksijde line-up and finished one place behind Wellens in 14th.
Despite a lingering bitterness over his temporary exclusion from the World Cup circuit, Verstaeten told Sporza that he was hopeful of a strong performance this weekend.
"It's too bad the World Cup [selection] system can deny riders opportunities to compete. In your mind that uncertainty always plays a role," he said. "I still think I should have been there last week.
"Over the next few days I will prepare well for Igorre and I hope for a decent result."
Verstraeten's best World Cup result so far this season was 15th at the second round in Plzen, Czech Republic. He finished 20th at the season opener in Treviso, Italy and 21st at the third round in Nommay, France.
Although Verstraeten has been recalled to the Belgian line up, his inclusion came at the expense of Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), who has been overlooked in the nine-man selection.
Wellens will once again start, as Verstraeten, Niels Albert, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantornout, Sven Vanthourenhout, Bart Aernouts and Erwin Vervecken were also included in the line-up announced on Monday.
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