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Belgium and the Netherlands bring stacked squads to World Championships

George Smith
10 Sep 2019

As more names are announced it’s hard to look past the two cycling giants

Last week Mathieu van der Poel admitted that he will arrive in Yorkshire as one of the favourites to win the coveted rainbow jersey at the UCI Road World Championships, with the 284.5km route tipped to be dominated by Classics specialists.

That will come as a challenge to not only his Dutch teammate Bauke Mollema, but also the rival Belgians, whose panoply of riding talent borders on being a hindrance rather than a benefit.

Leading their charge will be Olympic champion and Paris-Roubaix winner Greg Van Avermaet and former World Champion and multiple Monument winner Philippe Gilbert; though it may do the pair a disservice, their honours are too exhaustive to list here.

Behind them, rising star and junior World Champion Remco Evenepoel may even fancy his chances after a phenomenal debut season that saw the 19-year-old win the San Sebastian Classic in impressive style.

Talking to Het Laatste Nieuws, Belgian national coach Rik Verbrugghe admitted the dilemma that lay before him, stating, ‘it wasn't easy to put the selection together... I've had to make some difficult decisions with my selection.’

Though he has yet to announce the full roster of eight male riders, both Oliver Naesen and Dylan Teuns are primed to play important supporting roles for Belgium - impressive when considering the palmaires between the two.

In contrast, the Dutch national cycling federation have released the full squad that will support Spring Classics king Van der Poel and Grand Tour stage winner Mollema. Of note are Niki Terpstra, another multiple Monument champion, and Tour de France stage winner Mike Teunissen.

Pieter Weening, Sebastian Langeveld, Jos van Emden and Dylan van Baarle complete the octet, with their national team manager Koos Moerenhout happy he was 'able to put together a nice team for the time trial and the road race.'

Beyond Frenchman Julian Alaphillipe, who lit up the Tour de France earlier this year, it would take a bold person to look past these two giant cycling nations.