Sanne Cant and Wout Van Aert are the favourites for Sunday’s Belgian national cyclo-cross championships, with Cant chasing her 10th consecutive women’s title and Van Aert looking for a fourth title and a morale-boosting victory.
Most European countries host their national championships this weekend, with Mathieu van der Poel and Marianne Vos the favourites to win in the Netherlands before they take on Cant and Van Aert at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bogense, Denmark in three weeks time.
This year’s Belgian championships will be held in the Kruibeke, south of Antwerp, home to the Brico Cross and some legendary racing in the past, with the elite women’s race on Saturday afternoon and the men on Sunday.
Belgian Cycling Federation rules do not allow the riders to recon the course until the day of the race, but a number of former professionals have been studying the technical details and informing the riders and the news-hungry Belgian media. Conditions have been dry but muddy this week, with Bart Wellens predicting races will be decided by technique and focus.
“It’s very technical, so you have to stay focused, you can never relax,” Wellens told Sporza. “I think that there will be big differences, not between the top riders, but behind them.”
Cant shrugged off the pressure and expectation on her shoulders to win again. She has not raced in the Belgian national champion’s jersey this winter after winning the world title and the rainbow jersey last year in Luxembourg.
“I have learned how to deal with it. The stress of being young and inexperienced is no longer there,but of course I can always be beaten. In Ostend I had a hard time with Laura Verdonschot two seasons ago. But if I’m at my usual level, it shouldn’t happen,” she said.
Doubt is a bad counselor for Van Aert
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