Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert will share leadership duties at the UCI World Championships road race in Bergen this month, having been named in a Belgium squad boasting a rider for every possible outcome.
Van Avermaet will be the man to beat for Belgium in a race that is more similar to his favoured Spring Classics than last year’s pan flat course in Doha.
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Ardennes expert Gilbert will add a solid counterpart having won the Amstel Gold Race earlier this year and cobbled Classic the Tour of Flanders.
Alongside the Classics pairing, possible backup plans exist with the likes of Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r) and Dylan Teuns (BMC), with Teuns having taken selectors by surprise with a string of victories at the Tour of Poland, Tour de Wallonie and the Arctic Race of Norway.
Julien Vermote (Quick-Step), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Jens Kuekeleire (Orica-Scott) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) make up the rest of the super-squad with notable breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) in the reserves.
A notable non-selection is Cannondale-Drapac’s Sep Vanmarcke. A previous podium finisher at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, Vanmarcke is a big name within the squad but it’s clear that manager Kevin De Weert is doubling down on proven winners.
Vuelta a España stage winner Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) will join European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) on the Belgian time trial team.
The female road race squad was also announced with Belgium champion Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-Honda) leading the line.
Road race team line up:
Greg Van Avermaet
Laurens De Plus
Kelly Van den Steen