Mathieu van der Poel will hope to defend his world title ©Getty Images

Mathieu van der Poel heads into the International Cycling Union (UCI) Cyclo-cross World Championships as the clear favourite to claim the men’s title at Dübendorf in Switzerland.

The Dutch star will target a third world title having triumphed in both 2015 and 2019.

Van der Poel proved dominant during the World Cup season, with the 25-year-old triumphing at all five events he contested.

The results leave van der Poel as the rider to beat in the men’s elite race on Sunday (February 2).

Belgium’s Toon Aerts ultimately defended his overall World Cup title despite not claiming a victory in the nine-race series, as he recorded six second-place finishes.

Aerts could emerge as a rival to van der Poel at the World Championships, with fellow Belgians Wout van Aert, Eli Iserbyt and Laurens Sweeck also hoping to challenge the Dutch rider.

The women’s race will see Belgium’s Sanne Cant seek back-to-back titles.

Cant will expect to face a strong challenge from the Dutch squad in tomorrow’s competition, which includes newly-crowned World Cup champion Lucinda Brand.

Annemarie Worst will also hold strong hopes of success after an impressive World Cup campaign.

Annemarie Worst will be among the contenders to win the women's title ©Getty Images
Annemarie Worst will be among the contenders to win the women's title ©Getty Images

Both Brand and Worst earned three victories during the season, including one apiece in January to highlight their World Championships credentials.

The women’s elite race will highlight the opening day of the Championships, which are taking place in Switzerland for the first time since 1995.

The women’s junior and men’s under-23 races will also take place tomorrow.

Gold medals will be won in the men’s junior and elite events on Sunday (February 2), as well as the women’s under-23 race.