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Tom Meeusen Back in Belgian Worlds Squad

Patrick Verhoest

Belgian Cycling added Tom Meeusen to its Cyclocross World Championships roster for this weekend's festivities, after the Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport (BAS) ordered the organization to do so. Meeusen had been sidelined by the Belgische Wielerbond due to suspicion that he has taken part in ozone therapy treatments, but the court ordered the federation to proceed based on sporting criteria instead.

The exclusion was predicated on the fact that Meeusen was named, and on a UCI regulation that holds that a rider named in an investigation shall not race worlds. The UCI has "taken note of the decision," according to, which is a tad ambiguous. Did the BAS override one of its regulations? If so, are they really going to just sit there and do nothing? Perhaps. As we say in the lawyering business, bad facts make bad law, and if the case against Meeusen is thin enough, e.g. pure hearsay, then it might be the wrong time for the UCI to defend its regulation.

Anyway, back to the sporting criteria -- the decision means Sunweb's Tim Merlier is staying home, giving Kevin Pauwels one less mate from his trade team, and one more (Meeusen) from the rival Telenet Fidea squad. The Cross worlds are probably the place where the national team format matters the least, given the relative dominance of the Belgians, the minimal effect of teamwork, and the bitter rivalries among the top riders of one or even two nationalities. [Don't look for Lars van der Haar to go all in for Mathieu van der Poel if he thinks he can win himself.] Meeusen is in the top five of all three major season-long competitions, and owns a couple nice wins, making him the Telenet-Fidea team's top contribution to the Worlds scene.

Belgian coach Rudy De Bie touted the importance of Meeusen as a medal contender, an obvious upgrade over Merlier, and at only 25 Meeusen has a bright future (assuming he doesn't have any more legal issues). The question becomes, what's he got after a topsy-turvy week where he was sidelined, rode a forgettable Hoogerheide round, and then had his status restored for the biggest race of the year. Remains to be seen...