With four riders this weekend in Leuven, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will bring the biggest number of representants in its history to the start of the World Championships. Biniam Girmay Hailu (Eritrea) will participate in the U23 category on Friday (24/09) and Odd Christian Eiking (Norway), Danny van Poppel (Netherlands) and Georg Zimmermann (Germany) are selected to represent their nation in the Elite race (26/09).
The contingent will join the cream of international cycling in Belgium, for a start on the Main Square in Antwerp. The parcours goes 52 kilometer in a southern direction towards another historical city. In Leuven they will discover the local lap of 15.5 kilometer with four hills and the Flandrien circuit around Overijse.
The difficulties on this Flandrien circuit are the Smeysberg (700m at 8.8%), the cobbled Moskesstraat (550m at 8%), the S-turn in Overijse (738m at 5.5%), the Bekestraat (439m at 7.7%) the Veeweidestraat (484m at 5.2%) and a second time the Smeysberg. The technical circuit in Leuven contains the Sint-Antoniusberg (230m at 5.5%), the Keizersberg (290m at 6.6%), the Decouxlaan (975m at 2.5%) and the Wijnpers (360m at 7.9%). The Sint-Antoniusberg, situated 2 kilometer before the finish, is considered as the final difficulty before the finish in the Geldenaaksevest which is slightly uphill.
The four riders representing Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert are fixed values in their national teams. After finishing 23rd at his first Elite European Championships two weeks ago, Eiking will participate to his fourth Elite World Championships. The red jersey wearer of the Tour of Spain finished twice in the top 20 of an U23 World Championship and Georg Zimmermann achieved a double top 15 in the same category. In his first year as a pro rider last year, the German rider was immediately selected for the Elite World Championships. Danny Van Poppel will represent the orange colors of the Dutch team for the third time.
On Friday, the contenders for the rainbow jersey in the U23 category have to accomplish 160.9 kilometer, 100 less than the elite and the shortest distance of the last ten years. At the age of 21, Biniam Girmay Hailu will represent Eritrea in the U23 category for the second time on the roads on which he shone one month ago, finishing 7th at the Druivenkoers Overijse. The Eritrean rider took his first professional victory in Europe exactly three weeks before these World Championships. Biniam Girmay Hailu, the first African representant in the history of the team at the World Championships, is presented as one of the favorites this Friday.