France's Romain Cannone headlines the men's épée field at the European Fencing Championships ©Getty Images

Individual épée Olympic champion Romain Cannone is among the stars set to feature at the European Fencing Championships in Antalya, where Belarus and powerhouses Russia are absent due to their ongoing exile from competitions.

The Frenchman is the International Fencing Federation (FIE) world rankings leader, and is targeting a first continental medal at the Antalya Sports Hall.

Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Gergely Siklósi of Hungary, Italy's Andrea Santarelli and France's Yannick Borel, winner of two Grand Prix this season and a three-time European champion, are likely to provide a strong challenge.

The reigning champion is Yuval Freilich of Israel, who saw off Santarelli in the final at the 2019 edition in Düsseldorf.

Estonia's Olympic individual bronze medallist and team gold medallist Katrina Lehis headlines the women's épée field in the Turkish city, and is seeking to reclaim the title she won in 2018.

Marie-Florence Candassamy of France is a two-time European silver medallist, and aiming to go one better having climbed to third in the FIE world rankings.

Italy provided several star names in the foil competitions, including Rio 2016 Olympic champion and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Daniele Garozzo, defending champion Alessio Foconi and world number nine Tommaso Marini on the men's side, and women's top seed Alice Volpi.

The women's sabre event includes France's Olympic bronze medallist Manon Apithy-Brunet and Azerbaijan’s Anna Bashta as first and second seeds respectively.

Apithy-Brunet triumphed at the FIE World Cup in Istanbul, while Bashta claimed World Cup victories in Plovdiv and Athens and a Grand Prix success in Padua.

Manon Apithy-Brunet of France is among the favourites in the women's sabre event ©Getty Images
Manon Apithy-Brunet of France is among the favourites in the women's sabre event ©Getty Images

Hungary's Áron Szilágyi, who became the only male fencer to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals at Tokyo 2020, is bidding for what would only be a second individual men's sabre European crown.

Russian athletes, competing under the neutral Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner, topped the fencing medals table at Tokyo 2020 with three golds.

Russia also won four of the 12 golds at the last European Championships in 2019.

However, Russia and Belarus will be absent this year, having been banned due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov has accused some countries of attempting to change European Fencing Confederation (EFC) statutes in a bid to remove the nation.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who is President of the ROC, has also been removed as the leader of the EFC following a vote at an Extraordinary Congress last month.

Competition at the Championships is due to begin tomorrow with the women's foil and men's sabre events.

Individual competition is set to run until Sunday (June 19), with team events following from Monday (June 20) until Wednesday (June 22).