The week of the Valkenburg-Limburg World Championships is here, and accordingly, we are taking a look at who to expect on the start line this weekend. The 28-member Belgian team put together by coach Sven Vanthourenhout was announced last week.
The team is headed up by a number of women and men expected to compete for rainbow stripes in their respective categories, including Sanne Cant (IKO-Beobank), Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles), Eli Iserbyt (Marlux-Bingoal) and Laura Verdonschot (Marlux-Bingoal).
The announcement, however, is not without some controversy, as Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Bingoal) did not get a team nod despite being ranked sixth in the UCI rankings —third overall among Belgians — after the Belgian National Championships.
The exclusion was surprising, in part, because of official UCI regulations:
Each federation shall be required to include its first three ranked riders in their Men Elite’s and Women’s team, as long as they are in the top 50 of the UCI Cyclocross Classification as published after the national championships in Europe.
Pauwels dropped to seventh in the UCI rankings and fourth among the Belgians after last weekend’s Nommay World Cup, when Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) passed him.
After a 2016/17 where he finished strong, including a third-place finish at Worlds despite troubles with flats, Pauwels has consistently been a step off during the 2017/18 season. He has yet to podium this season and has only a handful of top five finishes. He finished eighth at Belgian Nationals, but he did finish fifth in Sunday’s Hoogerheide World Cup.
Kim van de Steene
Ellen Van Loy
Wout van Aert
For more from Valkenburg-Limburg, see our dedicated 2018 Cyclocross World Championships page.