Bekele set to lead the Belgian charge in Budapest | 28.11.2012
|Defending champion Atelaw Bekele of Belgium.
Only 2km of the 10km had been run but the Ethiopian-born athlete took control and the rest were chasing the minor places.
If that was a lesson learned how he competes, it will make this year's event, in Budapest on Sunday 9 December, even more intriguing as Bekele has been named in the Belgium team to defend his title.
In Velenje, Bekele won in 29:15, beating Spain's Ayad Lamdassem by five seconds and the pair will renew that rivalry in Hungary.
Bekele, who is 25 this Tuesday, will be looking forward to celebrating his birthday in style again having been the first Belgian to win gold in the senior's men race these Championships.
Sometimes it can be tougher to defend a title than win it in the first place, particularly because of the pressure of expectation.
But it is possible that Bekele will adopt the same tactics of 2011. After he won then, he said: "I am not a fast finisher so I had to get away from the field."
He built up a big lead in Velenje and may try to do the same this time.
Bekele is in a 17-strong Belgium squad heading to Budapest and is joined in the men's team by Abdi Bashir while Barbara Maveau and Almensch Belete spearhead their women's team.
France will arrive in Budapest with strong senior men's and women's squads as they look to make their mark in both the individual and teams events.
Hassan Chahdi, 23, who won team gold a year ago and the under-23 title 12 months earlier, will create a great deal of attention as he looks for a senior individual title.
But France will be keen to defend their men's team title from 2011 when they scored 34 points, 25 ahead of second-placed Britain.
Chahdi is joined in the team by Mokhtar Benhari, Timothee Bommier, Driss El Himer, Riad Guerfi and Denis Mayaud.
Sophie Duarte was France's best finisher in the individual women's race in Velenje in sixth in 26:36 as Ireland's Fionnuala Britton won in 25:55.
The French team were fourth overall then and they will look for the podium this time with Christine Bardelle, Magali Bernard, Severine Hamel, Maryline Pellen and Laurane Picoche making up the side.
France will be strong in five of the six categories, with the junior girls being the only area where they do not have a full team.
The Netherlands men's senior team in Budapest will see Michel Butter competing in his seventh European Cross Country Championships.
Still only 27, Butter first took part in the junior event in Edinburgh in 2003 and last competed in Brussels in 2008 when he was ninth.
Now more renowned for the marathon - he was the leading European in Boston in April when he was seventh in 2:16:38 as Kenyan Wesley Korir won in 2:12:40 - Butter is in the men's team with Khalid Choukoud, Gert-Jan Wassink, Tom Wiggers and Ronald Schroer. Adrienne Herzog is the only female athlete on the women's team.