The UCI Road World Championships are set to begin in Flanders ©Getty Images

Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel will lead the host nation’s challenge as the men’s elite individual time trial opens the International Cycling Union (UCI) Road World Championships in Flanders.

Van Aert finished as the silver medallist at last year’s World Championships in Imola, where Italy’s Filippo Ganna triumphed at his home event.

The Belgian team will be hoping local surroundings will be to their advantage this time around, with both van Aert and Evenepoel expected to be in contention tomorrow.

Evenepoel enters the event fresh from a third-place finish at the European Championships in Trentino earlier this month, where he finished behind defending champion Stefan Küng of Switzerland and Ganna.

Küng and Ganna are expected to be the key riders for the Belgian stars to beat if they are to top the podium places tomorrow.

The men’s time trial will see riders complete a flat 43.3-kilometre course, which starts in Knokke-Heist and ends in Bruges.

The women’s elite time trial will take place on Monday (September 20), with the men’s under-23 event held on the same 30.3km course.

Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser will be among the contenders after being crowned European champion earlier this month.

Reusser finished as the silver medallist last year, behind Dutch star Anna van der Breggen.

Van der Breggen has elected not to defend her title in Flanders as she focuses on supporting the Dutch team in the road race in her final World Championships.

Her compatriot, Annemiek van Vleuten, will start as the favourite, after winning Olympic gold in the discipline at Tokyo 2020.

Wout van Aert will be a contender for the men's time trial and road race titles ©Getty Images
Wout van Aert will be a contender for the men's time trial and road race titles ©Getty Images

Junior time trial events will be held on September 21, with the mixed team relay taking place the following day.

Road races are due to begin on September 24 with the junior women’s and men’s under-23 competitions.

The women’s elite road race will take place on September 25 in Antwerp, with the men’s junior event held on the same day in Leuven.

Van Vleuten and three-time champion Marianne Vos will be among the favourites in the Dutch team, while Lotte Kopecky leads Belgian hopes.

The 267.7km men’s race will round off the World Championships on September 26, with Van Aert billed as the favourite.

The Belgian star could face competition from the Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel, defending champion Julian Alaphilippe of France and newly crowned European champion Sonny Colbrelli of Italy.

The World Championships is celebrating its 100th anniversary, with the event having been held for the first time back in 1921.

The UCI Congress will be held in Leuven on September 24, with the governing body’s President David Lappartient set to be re-elected after he was confirmed as the sole candidate back in July.