Field of participants
The participants of Danilith Nokere Koerse were announced at the annual press dinner. The organisation deliberately chose to ride with a limited peloton. Race directors Rony De Sloovere and Gil Steyvers: 'This way we want to ensure safety in the race. We ride both men and women with 20 teams, with 140 and 120 riders respectively. By deliberately restricting the peloton, we get a less nervous race. Safety comes first.'
In both the men's and women's races, the number one will again be pinned on by the outgoing winners, Tim Merlier and Lorena Wiebes. Chairman Robrecht Bothuyne: 'We are very happy with our participants. In the men and women, the Belgian champion is on the participants list. And European champion Lorena Wiebes is absolute world class. And in both the men's and women's events, typical for Nokere, there is once again up-and-coming talent at the start; Shirin Van Anrooij, for example, the white jersey from the past Tour de France, or Thibau Nys who is at the start for the first time for the Trek team.'
Will Tim Merlier succeed himself?
Belgian champion Tim Merlier was by far the strongest on the slopes of Nokereberg in 2022. This year, too, the Wortegemnaar will be at the start in Deinze. And with ambition! Merlier: "I'm going for a second consecutive victory. It's been a long time since someone could succeed themselves. I'm going to try to make this happen!" Merlier can expect some tough competition, even from his own region! Sep Vanmarcke is also at the start. Lotto-Dstny brings out Victor Campenaerts and Florian Vermeersch. And Edward Theuns is also going for the win in Nokere, just like former Belgian champion Dries De Bondt. From abroad, Australian sprinter Sam Welsford, who has already won twice in Argentina, and German top sprinter Pascal Ackermann are coming. Last year's runner-up, Max Walscheid, is once again riding for Cofidis for a step up on the podium. In addition to Tim Merlier, former winner Timothy Dupont is also at the start.
Nokere is also the race for new and emerging talent. In addition, this year we will certainly be looking forward to the debut of Thibau Nys, who is making his pro road debut for the Trek team. Looking forward to see what the 2021 European Under-23 champion and brand-new Under-23 cyclo-cross world champion can already do among the seasoned pros on the road!
3rd victory for Lorena Wiebes?
In the women's race, European champion Lorena Wiebes is going for number 3. Danilith Nokere Koerse was her first big victory among the pros. Now, the world's fastest woman on two wheels is the top favorite. But she will also face tough competition. She will have to contend with last year's third-place finisher, former world champion Marta Bastianelli, who already won the GP Le Samyn this week. Belgian champion Kim De Baat and emerging Belgian talent Julie De Wilde is expected to be at the start. From further afield comes Kirsten Faulkner, who was good for two stage wins in the Giro last year. And what about the Cuban Arlenis Sierra? The top rider of Movistar finished 4th in the Tour of Flanders last year, so the Flemish cobblestones should suit her well. And we haven't even mentioned the strong Trek team or the Jumbo-Visma team yet... So, it's going to be an exciting battle in the women's race too!
Danilith Nokere Koerse can be seen live on VRT Sporza and Eurosport