Former professional rider Rik Verbrugghe will be the new national road coach for Belgium, with responsibility for the elite men and under-23 categories, while current national cyclo-cross coach Sven Vanthourenhout will assist Verbrugghe with the U23 category.

Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws had reported on their website on Monday that Axel Merckx was the frontrunner for the job, with Vanthourenhout set to assist him, but it was announced by the national cycling federation, Belgian Cycling, on Wednesday that Verbrugghe would be taking on the role.

Former pro Peter Van Petegem, along with Merckx, had also been confirmed as being on the federation’s long list of what Belgian Cycling director Jos Smets had said was 20 names.


The role of national road coach became available at the start of October after Kevin De Weert resigned following this year’s UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, to instead take on a new job as WorldTour team Lotto Soudal‘s performance manager.

As a rider, Verbrugghe raced for the various iterations of the Lotto team from 1996 to the end of 2004. He then rode for Quick-Step for a single season in 2005, and spent the last three years of his career with French team Cofidis.

During his time as a pro, time-trial specialist Verbrugghe took a number of major victories, including the overall 2001 Critérium International title, followed two weeks later by victory at the Flèche Wallonne one-day race.

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