New road race world champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) is set to line up on slightly rougher terrain on Sunday at the opening round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series on home soil in Gieten, in the Netherlands. Belgium's Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) will start as the favourite in the men's event, having won the opening two rounds of the World Cup.
Iserbyt won the World Cup opener in Iowa City, in the USA, last month, and went on to dominate in Waterloo the following weekend, giving him a commanding lead in the competition over Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions), who was second behind the youngster at both events.
The Belgian champion – and defending World Cup champion – will be out for revenge in Gieten on Sunday, while also on the start list is 2008 cyclo-cross world champion Lars Boom (Roompot-Charles), who has concentrated on the road in recent years, but will be a fan favourite in front of a home crowd.
Another rider worth watching will be current under-23 cyclo-cross world champion Tom Pidcock (Trinity Racing), who told Cyclingnews earlier this week that he intends to ride a full season of elite-level cyclo-cross for the first time.
He beat Iserbyt for the U23 world title in Bogense, Denmark earlier this year, and so it will be interesting to see how he goes against the Belgian and the elite field on Sunday.
Neither Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) nor Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) will line up for the opening round of the series, with the former taking a break after a long 2018/19 season of cyclo-cross and road racing, and the latter still recovering from his injuries sustained in a crash on the stage 13 individual time trial at this year's Tour de France.
Van Vleuten, meanwhile, who won the Worlds road race in Yorkshire last month by way of an audacious solo break, will go up against last year's winner of the women's race in Gieten, European cyclo-cross champion Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts-777), and reigning world champion Sanne Cant (Crelan-IKO), who won the Gieten round of the Superprestige series three times in a row from 2014-2016.
The second round of the eight-round Superprestige series will take place in Boom, Belgium, on Saturday, October 19, while the World Cup returns to Europe and continues in Bern, Switzerland, for round three on October 20.