Although he has two silver medals from the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, Klaas Vantornout was not selected for the Belgian team for this year's race in Heusden-Zolder. The 33-year-old has had a terrible season, having failed to make a single podium, and accepted his fate.
Belgium will be represented by Wout Van Aert, Kevin Pauwels, Sven Nys, Tom Meeusen, Laurens Sweeck, and Michael Vanthourenhout; the top six in the UCI rankings. If Van Aert wins the World Cup, which he leads by 21 points over Dutch rider Lars van der Haar, then Belgium will get an additional spot. Coach Rudy De Bie informed Vantornout, who is the next-ranked Belgian, that he would not be part of the team. Instead, the seventh rider would be Van Aert's teammate Tim Merlier.
"Ever since the World Championship in Zeddam in 2006, every time I have always ensured good results and that gives me great satisfaction. But I am having my worst season yet, and the young riders are just better," Vantornout said to Sport.be.
Vantornout had flashes of his old self, coming fourth in the Namur World Cup and fifth in Zolder, but has not been able to maintain that level. In this weekend's World Cup in Lignieres-en-Berry, he finished a distant 16th behind Mathieu van der Poel.
"I don't know what went wrong, but of course I am still motivated for what's ahead," he added.
Belgium for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships:
Elite Men: Tom Meeusen, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Laurens Sweeck, Wout Van Aert, Michael Vanthourenhout, plus Tim Merlier if Van Aert wins the World Cup. Reserves: Toon Aerts, Klaas Vantornout and Gianni Vermeersch.
Elite Women: Sanne Cant, Loes Sels, Joyce Vanderbeken, Ellen Van Loy, Karen Verhestraeten, Jolien Verschueren
U23 Men: Thijs Aerts, Nicolas Cleppe, Quinten Hermans, Daan Hoeyberghs, Eli Iserbyt, Daan Soete, and Yannick Peeters if Iserbyt wins the World Cup. Reserves: Stijn Caluwe and Yorben Van Tichelt.
U23 Women: Joyce Heyns, Shana Maes, Femke Van Den Driessche, Laura Verdonschot
Junior Men: Alessio Dhoore, Jappe Jaspers, Seppe Rombouts, Toon Vandebosch, Florian Vermeersch, and Jari De Clercq if Jaspers wins the World Cup.