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Wout van Aert, Lotte Kopecky headline Belgian worlds team; Mathieu Van der Poel back in saddle

Several big names are left off the Belgian elite men's road world championship team, while Van der Poel races for the first time on pavement since the Tour de France.

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How deep is the Belgian world championship team?

Former world champ Philippe Gilbert and former Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet were among those left off the Belgian elite men’s worlds selection, revealed Monday by national federation officials.

Wout van Aert and Lotte Kopecky headline the powerful Belgian world championships selection, set to be contested on home roads September 19-26.

“We have indeed had to make some difficult decisions and I have had to disappoint the riders,” national coach Sven Vanthourenhout told Het Nieuwsblad. “I had to disappoint more than I selected. I was even able to select a second team that would be good: Naesen, Van Avermaet, Gilbert. I never thought I would have to disappoint those riders.”

Also read: What the Challenge by La Vuelta reveals about the worlds

Supporting van Aert will be Remco Evenepoel, Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven and Dylan Teuns. Gilbert, Tim Merlier, Van Avermaet, Gianni Vermeersch and Tim Wellens are listed as reserves.

Kopecky will see support from Jolien D’Hoore, Shari Bossuyt, Kim de Baat, Valerie Demey, and Jesse Vandenbulcke. Sanne Cant, Julie De Wilde, and Lone Meertens will be reserves.

Julie Van de Velde will race the women’s time trial, while van Aert and Evenepoel will start for the men.

Mathieu van der Poel to return to racing

Mathieu Van der Poel will race for the first time on the road since the Tour de France this weekend at the Antwerp Port Epic, Alpecin-Fenix team officials confirmed.

Nagging back problems kept the Dutch star out of the mountain world championships as well as the Benelux Tour. Following a week of solid training, team officials said he’s ready to get back to action.

Also read: Van der Poel extends with Alpecin-Fenix

Expectation remains high that Van der Poel will be able to race the road world championships on September 26 in Belgium, and Paris-Roubaix the following weekend.

Officials said his calendar will be updated following his sensations in the race this weekend.