Matthieu van der Poel is the strong favourite for the elite men's race ©Getty Images

Matthieu van der Poel will be the heavy favourite for the men’s title when the International Cycling Union (UCI) Cyclo-Cross World Championships takes place this weekend in Bogense in Denmark.

The 24-year-old Dutch rider, who became the youngest ever world champion when he won in 2015, has been in imperious form this season, winning every World Cup race in which he has taken part.

As European champion as well, it is hard to see past van der Poel as the eventual winner come Sunday (February 3).

Belgium provide the best chance of stopping him through their pair of Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert.

They finished first and second respectively in the overall World Cup standings this season and Van Aert has won the world title every year since 2016.

Both of them then will fancy their chances.

Marianne Vos will look to win the elite women's race for the first time since 2014 ©Getty Images
Marianne Vos will look to win the elite women's race for the first time since 2014 ©Getty Images

Belgium also provide the defending champion in the women’s race through Sanne Cant, though she will have to be at her absolute best to see off Dutch rival Marianne Vos, the 2012 Olympic road race champion. 

She won the overall UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup title this year with a race to spare and has triumphed at the World Championships six times.

Incredibly, those wins all came in a row as well, though the latest came back in 2014.

In all five races will go ahead in the small coastal town on Funen Island, with a men’s junior event as well as men’s and women’s under-23 contests.

All the age group races plus the elite women’s event are due to ahead tomorrow before the elite men’s race takes centre stage on Sunday (February 3).

In the five races 289 riders from 24 countries are expected to take part.