McCormack poses a test for Carton

McCormack poses a test for Carton
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Louise Carton and Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack go head to head in the Brussels CrossCup on Sunday.

A week after winning gold in the under-23 race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Hyères, Belgium’s Louise Carton will have to be at her best again on Sunday.

Carton heads the field at the Iris Joker + CrossCup in Brussels on Sunday and faces tough opposition over 6km in this European Athletics Cross Country Permit meeting.

The biggest threat will be from Ireland’s double Eurocross champion Fionnuala McCormack, who was fourth in the senior event in France as her country won team bronze. Maureen Koster of the Netherlands, Sweden’s Sarah Lahti and Carton’s teammates Almensh Belete and Veerle Dejaeghere, who at the age of 42 was an impressive 14th in Hyères, are likely to also have a say in the outcome.

And while this race in Brussels has regularly been part of McCormack’s programme, she has never managed to win it, finishing second on two occasions.

Since October, Carton, 21, has been impressive in the CrossCup series.

In the first event in Gent, she ran the last leg to lead her club Meetjesland to victory and then a week after that she won over 6.2km (21:12) in Mol.

Then in November she triumphed in 22:21 over 6.25km in Roeselaare, beating Lahti, in second, by nine seconds.

Lahti was sixth in Hyères, 20 seconds behind Carton, while Koster was ninth in the senior race.

The men’s event on Sunday will give another Belgian, Isaac Kimeli, the chance to make up for his disappointing run at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

One of the pre-race favourites and a contender when he was part of the lead group of four, Kimeli, 21, ended up 38th in the under-23 race.

Like Carton in Gent, he anchored his club OEH to a CrossCup victory and will face fellow Belgians Thomas Debock, Dries Basemans, Yannick Michiels, Koen Naert, Jeroen D’Hoedt and Pieter-Jan Hannes.