The Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) confirmed its team for the upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships which will take place on January 30 and 31 in Oostende, Belgium. The talent-packed team has the potential to win all four available titles, according to national team coach Gerben de Knegt.
“Wee have a chance to win the world title in all four races, but of course that doesn’t mean I assume in advance that we will win all races,” De Knegt said in a press release.
Defending world champions Mathieu van der Poel and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (both Alpecin-Fenix) will lead the team in the elite races while Ryan Kamp will defend his U23 title. There are no junior races this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“A world championship is always a special race, where some riders can rise above themselves. I think we can say that the chance of success is greatest with the elite women, also because here we have several candidates to conquer the gold,” de Knegt said. In addition to Alvarado, the Dutch team also includes World Cup series winner Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek), seven-time world champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
The Dutch also stack the U23 women’s category with Manon Bakker, ranked ninth in the world in the elites, confirming on Sunday that she would seek a world title in the U23 race.
Van der Poel can count on Lars van der Haar, Corné van Kessel and Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team DSM) along with his brother David in the elite men’s race.
De Knegt sees the biggest threat in the men’s race coming from Belgian Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who claimed the World Cup overall and the win in Overijse on Sunday.
“In all the other categories there is certainly competition from outside our country, so I expect defending champion Mathieu van der Poel in the elite men to face fierce resistance from Belgian challenger Wout van Aert. The preparation for this world championship is different than in other years, for example, we have had less joint training with our U23s. Still, I know that everyone is ready and I hope that the World Championship can take place as planned.”
The last bit of doubt comes as a new variant of the coronavirus, B117, first detected in the UK, has landed in Oostende. The variant is thought to be 50 per cent more infectious than the original virus.
Rik Debeaussaert, the chair of the organising committee told Het Nieuwsblad, “We have taken very strict measures, everything is organized according to the rules against COVID-19. Everyone will also do a PCR test: riders, entourage, journalists and employees.
“We have put in so much effort. Despite the fact that we are not allowed to host audiences and VIPs, we wanted to continue for the love of the sport. It would be a shame to see four years of work go to waste.”
Netherlands for UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships
Mathieu van der Poel
Lars van der Haar
Corné van Kessel
David van der Poel
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado
Sophie de Boer
Inge van der Heijden
Aniek van Alphen
Fem van Empel
Shirin van Anrooij
Tim van Dijke