The first edition of a UEC European Gravel Championship in combination with the first Belgian Gravel Championships have been an instant success as registrations for the age groups have had to be closed two weeks prior to the race.
A total of 1667 riders have entered representing 31 different nationalities all keen on grabbing the first European or national titles in the discipline.
The course is designed in loop so that all categories and age can race together with a minimum risk of being overlapped.
The race starts with a 28km local lap which needs to be done twice by all categories. Most of them then begin a 47km big loop to come down to the local lap which has to be done another two times by the men elite and once for the men age groups and women elite.
The participants are a mix of top level riders from the road, cyclocros and gravel specialists with the two world champions, Gianni Vermeersch (BEL) and Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) at the start next to former Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, Jasper Stuyven, Tim Merlier, Daniel Oss, Alessandro De Marchi but also former top level riders as Philippe Gilbert and Jan Bakelants. They get competition from the gravel specialists like Jasper Ockeloen, Paul Voss and Piotr Havik while cyclocross riders Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout, Laurens Sweeck and Thibau Nys get in good shape one week prior to the start of the Belgian cyclocross season.
On the women side, Pauline will get serious competition from cyclocross world champion Fem van Empel but also top sprinter Lorena Wiebes. The gravel specialists in the discipline Carolin Schiff, Tessa Neefjes, Tiffany Cromwell, Pauliena Rooijakkers and Jade Treffeisen know who to watch one week prior to the World Championships. Also here a lot of top level cyclocross riders with former triple world champion Sanne Cant, Denise Betsema and Yara Kastelijn.