These two have not left each other for several seasons already.

And, given their state of form displayed with class in recent weeks, their Sunday duel promises to be epic once again, in the absence of Briton Tom Pidcock who will not defend his title, preferring to concentrate on his preparation for the road season.

This season, the two best enemies of the plowed have met ten times.

With a slight advantage to the Belgian Van Aert, winner six times.

Each time, the races were very close to such an extent that it is impossible to designate a favorite for Sunday.

"It will probably be 50/50. It will all depend on the state of form on the day. Until then, I will rest well to have my best legs of the season in a week," Van der Poel explained on Sunday. last after his success at the last round of the World Cup in Besançon, in which Van Aert did not participate.

Untouchable Dutch

In Dutch Zealand, north of Antwerp, on the border between the two countries, the site of the technical circuit of Hoogerheide should bring together some tens of thousands of fans who hope that possible mechanical problems (frequent in the discipline) will not come not spoil the expected fireworks.

With the exception of the Belgians Laurens Sweeck (winner of the World Cup), Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout (champion of Belgium and Europe), it is difficult to see who could come to disrupt the fight between Van der Poel and Van Aert.

Among the ladies, an almost certainty: the world champion will be Dutch.

Even if the eight-time world champion and outgoing winner Marianne Vos will not be there.

The 35-year-old Dutchwoman, who has just announced that she will play for three more years at the highest level, is out due to physical problems.

However, the title should not escape the "Oranje", the first seven places of the World Cup being occupied by runners from the flat country, ultra-dominant.

Fem van Empel (World Cup winner), Puck Pieterse (the most impressive in recent weeks), Shirin van Anrooij or Lucinda Brand are often the most cited for the conquest of the rainbow jersey.

The program (in Paris time):


Mixed relay, 12:30 p.m.


Junior Ladies, 11:00 a.m.

Men's hopes (under 23), 1:00 p.m.

Ladies Elite, 3:00 p.m.


Junior gentlemen, 11 a.m.

Ladies hopefuls (under 23), 1:00 p.m.

Elite men, 3:00 p.m.

© 2023 AFP