Rik Van Steenbergen and Rik Van Looy were the two key figures in the Belgian selection, but they weren't the best friends. Rik Van Steenbergen had already become world champion twice, including the year before, in 1956, on the streets of Copenhagen. In the meantime he had turned 33 and felt the hot breath of the young Rik Van Looy on his neck. The previous year, he had come second behind Van Steenbergen in the Danish capital. That could well be the other way around in Waregem.
The two tenors had agreed the night before not to ride after one another. They did not want a scenario in which they would lose by riding against each other. When Van Looy attacked, van Steenbergen kept his word. He tried to counter, but when he saw the Frenchman Bobet in his wheel, he stopped.
Van Looy and Marcel Janssens had escaped and seemed to be on their way to the world title. But Janssens had more sympathy for Van Steenbergen and did not cooperate, much to the frustration of Van Looy. In the meantime, Van Steenbergen had convinced Fred De Bruyne to ride behind the leading duo. Because it didn't work at the front, the group came back with Van Steenbergen. So it eventually came down to a sprint, in which Van Steenbergen was the fastest. Van Looy was fourth.