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).

Sanne Cant finally achieves her 20-year-old dream, and you could hear her celebration in the States. 2017 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, Bieles, Luxembourg. © M. Hilger / Cyclocross Magazine

Sanne Cant heads up the Women’s Belgian Worlds team as she looks to defend her rainbow stripes. 2017 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, Bieles, Luxembourg. © M. Hilger / Cyclocross Magazine

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.

Kevin Pauwels focuses on his line. He finished sixth. 2017 Flandriencross. © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

Kevin Pauwels was left off the Belgian Worlds team. 2017 Flandriencross. © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

The full teams announced by Belgian Cycling are below.

Elite Women

Sanne Cant
Loes Sels
Kim van de Steene
Ellen Van Loy
Karen Verhestraeten
Jolien Verschueren

Elite Men

Toon Aerts
Quinten Hermans
Tim Merlier
Daan Soete
Laurens Sweeck
Wout van Aert
Michael Vanthourenhout

U23 Women

Axelle Bellaert
Marthe Truyen
Laura Verdonschot
Suzanne Verhoeven

U23 Men

Thijs Aerts
Eli Iserbyt
Timo Kielich
Yannick Peeters
Jelle Schuermans
Toon Vandebosch

Junior Men

Jarno Bellens
Ryan Cortjens
Gerben Kuypers
Witse Meeussen
Niels Vandeputte

For more from Valkenburg-Limburg, see our dedicated 2018 Cyclocross World Championships page.