Leuven (Belgium) (AFP)

Two months after its scramble at the Tokyo Olympics, the Dutch women's team is the favorite part of the world cycling championship on Saturday between Antwerp and Louvain, with four successes in four years.

For having reacted in a disorderly way behind Austria's Anna Kiesenhofer in Japan, the flagship nation of women's cycling suffered a masterful setback.

But it resumed the course of its domination at the recent European Championships (victory of van Dijk) then in the time trial of the Worlds last Monday (van Dijk 1st, van Vleuten 3rd).

In Flanders, the Netherlands are fielding a group, half of which have already won the rainbow race one or more times: three times for Marianne Vos, whose last victory dates back to 2013, twice for Anna van der Breggen, who is playing her last season, once for Annemiek van Vleuten, frustrated with her silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, and Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak.

"Marianne Vos is our best card," says van Vleuten, referring to the sprinter qualities of her elder brother.

But, at the risk of once again experiencing disagreement, all the Dutch (Brand, Pieters, van Dijk and Vollering complete the group) have arguments to make in this type of race.

Their opponents are therefore attacking a large part at the start of the 157.7 kilometers.

The Belgian Lotte Kopecky (4th at the Olympics), who relies on her burst of speed, the Italian trident (Balsamo, Bastianelli, Longo Borghini) or the American Coryn Rivera know what awaits them on the course mixing the coasts of the Flandrian circuit and the final Louvain circuit, with a final difficulty (Sint-Antoniusberg) at the entrance of the last two kilometers.

The French, boosted by Juliette Labous' 6th place in the world time trial, presented themselves without complexes.

"I lacked confidence in my last races," said the young Franc-Comtoise (22), reassured by her last performance.

The Dutch Annemiek Van Vleuten during the individual time trial of the World Road Cycling Championships in Bruges, September 20, 2021 Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD AFP / Archives

"I prefer longer moguls but I know how to manage on this kind of course which requires to be well placed. We take part of the course of the Flèche Brabançonne where I took 6th place having escaped", adds the youngster. woman, one of the assets of the "Bleues" which also align the champion of France Evita Muzic (22 years) and the more experienced Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Aude Biannic.

© 2021 AFP