'In my own country, I'm not part of the team': Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet not selected for home World Championships

There were a few surprise names left off the list for the Flanders 2021 Worlds

Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert
(Image credit: PA Images)

Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert have spoken about their disappointment of missing the selection on the Belgian team for a home World Championships.

The World Road Championships are due to take place in late September in Van Avermaet's home region of Flanders, however, the 36-year-old has been missing his usual combative form and hasn't made the cut. 

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Van Avermaet, who has been on the start line at the World Championships for 14 consecutive years, spoke to Sporza: "It is a huge disappointment. I have been there for 14 years and just now, in my own country, I am not part of the selection. That is not nice news,

"I was secretly hoping for it, but also felt the news myself. With my normal level, I was one of the first on the selection sheet."

The former Olympic champion, Van Avermaet has not had the best couple of seasons, recently suggesting he believes it may be due to health complications.

"I have already ridden World Championships on courses that are less suitable for me. Just think of Innsbruck. That is why I was so looking forward to this World Championships, the first time in my own country, on a course that suits me," he continued.

Philippe Gilbert, a former world champion himself, also missed out on the call up by Belgium's national coach Sven Vanthourenhout, along with Tim Wellens, meaning no Lotto-Soudal riders made the cut.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Gilbert said: "It is clear that Wout van Aert is the very best Belgian cyclist of the moment. I would have liked to have helped him on his way to victory with my experience, but I have to accept the selection,"

"I experienced beautiful moments at World Championships, culminating in my world title in Valkenburg in 2012."

Gilbert, now 39-years-old, added how he accepts he has not shown the form he usually expects of himself, but says he was happy with his recent ride at the Benelux Tour where he helped Caleb Ewan and Tim Wellens.

Lotto, who are co-title sponsors on Gilbert's Lotto-Soudal outfit, also sponsor the Belgian national team, however, no Lotto-Soudal riders have been picked to ride: "I am very disappointed with the Belgian National Lottery. Even though politics and sport have little in common, it would have been good if someone from Lotto-Soudal had been there."

Wellens was a surprise rider not to be selected for the race along Ag2r-Citroën rider Oliver Naesen, the latter not even making the reserves.

The reserve list is made up of Van Avermaet, Wellens, Gilbert and then two Alpecin-Fenix riders  Tim Merlier and  Gianni Vermeersch.

The team selected for the road race is to be led by Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert with the rest all down to support him. They are Remco Evenepoel, Tiesj Benoot, Yves Lampaert, Victor Campenaerts, Jasper Stuyven, Tim Declerq and Dylan Teuns.

Van Aert and Evenepoel will both be riding the elite men's TT for Belgium. 

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