King’s Lynn Stars in-form number one Niels-Kristian Iversen believes Denmark can be the surprise package in this year’s Speedway World Cup.

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Iversen will captain an inexperienced Danish side this evening as they take on Russia, USA and hosts, and reigning champions, Poland in Event One at Bydgoszcz.

Even though national champion Nicki Pedersen is unable to ride in tonight’s opener, the Stars ace insists World Cup debutants Michael Jepsen Jensen, Leon Madsen and Mikkel B Jensen can excel on the biggest stage.

Iversen said: “When I did my first few World Cups I always rode quite a bit better than I normally did.

“I was really excited and hungry and it spurred me on. Hopefully it will be the same with these guys in the sense that they can go out there and up their games. They’re all really talented riders already so I think it’s looking good.

They’re all motivated and hungry to do well. They have the chance to show what they can do and that it is right to have them in the team and I’m sure they’re all really looking forward to it.

“The Poles are favourites, no doubt about that. Even with their injuries they’ve still got so many riders that are doing well. But it’s going to be tight between the other three teams.

“I think we can be a surprise package and although I respect the other teams I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get to the final.”

The 30-year-old’s Lynn team-mate, World-Under 21 champion Maciej Janowski, will make his World Cup debut as Poland look to win their fourth consecutive title.

The winners of Event One - and Event Two at King’s Lynn’s Norfolk Arena on Monday - will join hosts Sweden in the final at Malilla on July 14. The second and third-placed teams from both meetings will enter the race-off at the same venue on July 12, where the winners will progress to the last four. Two-time World Cup winner Iversen, currently third in the Elite League averages and five good rides away from next season’s Grand Prix series, says he will thrive off the pressure of captaining his country.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. Although I rode in the World Cup last year it’s different this time around.

“I wasn’t riding as good as I am now so my own expectations are higher. I’m really hungry for this. I’ve won it twice and they were great times. I’d love to do it again but I know it’s going to be hard.

“Pressure doesn’t bother me, if anything it makes me more motivated. I’m excited about leading the team in the first meeting in Nikki’s (Pedersen) absence.”

Poland (Blue): 1 Tomasz Gollob, 2 Grzegorz Walasek, 3 Janusz Kolodziej, 4 Maciej Janowski

Denmark (Yellow): 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen, 2 Leon Madsen, 3 Michael Jepsen Jensen, 4 Mikkel B Jensen

Russia (Red): 1 Emil Sayfutdinov, 2 Grigory Laguta, 3 Artem Laguta, 4 Roman Povazhny

USA (White): 1 Greg Hancock, 2 Billy Hamill, 3 Ryan Fisher, 4 Ricky Wells

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