Twelve Belgian elite men will contest the first European Cyclo-cross Championship race for that category in Huijbergen on Saturday, but Klaas Vantornout will not be among them. The Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider has struggled with an infection and then crashed in Zonhoven last month and has been struggling with the aftermath.
According to Sporza, Belgian coach Rudy De Bie said Vantornout is "not fit enough."
"A rider - and certainly a Belgian champion - cannot participate in a European Championship if he is not quite fit. That would not be a gift," De Bie said. "It would be smarter if he started again in Ruddervoorde on Sunday. He has already won there. Two races in one weekend is perhaps a little too ambitious."
De Bie said he discussed the selection with Vantornout, and the Belgian champion understood the decision and said it was not the end of the world.
Last year, Belgium came away with three gold medals in the European Championships thanks to Sanne Cant (women), Wout van Aert in the U23s and Eli Iserbyt for the Junior Men. Saturday will be the first time the elite men will contest the continental championships, and Van Aert is expected to be the main favourite along with Lars Van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin). The course, De Bie said, would be similar to Zonhoven, where Van Aert dominated in the elites, and Cant and Iserbyt, now racing U23, also won their categories.
Belgium roster for the European Championship Elite Men's race: Jens Adams, Tom Meeusen, Tim Merlier, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Rob Peeters, Diether Sweeck, Laurens Sweeck, Wout van Aert, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Michael Vanthourenhout, Gianni Vermeersch.
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