This is the second year the event has been held completely virtually ©Getty Images

Russia's Alexander Vyazobkin will be one of the key challengers to Belgian Ward Lemmelijn's bid to defend his open men’s title when the World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships takes place on Friday (February 25) and Saturday (February 26).

Olympic finalist Vyazovkin qualified with the fastest time of 5 minutes and 42.6 seconds in the 2,000-metre-long race.

Also in contention is Finland's Joel Naukkarinen and Benin's Privel Hinkati.

In the open women 2,000m event, current world champion Kirsten Kline of the United States will be keen to hold off Ukraine's Olena Buryak - the 2020 winner.

Nevertheless, Peixin Zhang of China, the 2019 world junior champion, is in hot contention for the title after recording the fastest qualifying time.

The under-23 men's 2,000m will see record-breaker and last year's winner Isaiah Harrison of the US defend his title.

Belgium's Tristan Vandenbussche qualified slightly behind Harrison and could pose a significant threat to the title holder.

Germany's Alexandra Foester will compete again in the under-23 women's 2,000m and may face a difficult task of beating Estonia's Doris Meinbek.

The Estonian finished with the best qualifying time of 7:06.0, though this was a fraction ahead of Foester's 7:07.1.

Additionally, Latvia's Diana Bulasa and Denmark's Var Guriardottir Hansen could pose a threat.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Nourelhoda Arafa will pose a challenge to China's domination in the lightweight women after three Chinese athletes finished in the top-three.

Yang Min set a qualifying-best time of 7:06.9.

Sylvia Pille-Steppat of Germany, who finished fifth at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and Moran Samuel of Israel, who finished second, headline the PR1 women's 2,000m.

Pille-Steppart comes into the competition slightly better off after being the fastest in qualifying, setting a time of 8:31.8.

Another Israel athlete, Shmuel Daniel, is the favourite for the PR1 men's 2,000m whilst Spain's Javier Reja Munoz could challenge him.

In the under-19 men's 2,000m, Italy's Nicola Speziani, Portugal's Pedro Rodriques and Estonia's national team member Rainer Oras are set to compete against each other.

Switzerland's Lina Kuehn, who finished qualifying with a time under seven minutes, and Meinbek are favourites to lead the under-19 women's 2,000m event.

The open men's 500m sees Britain's two-time reigning champion Phil Clapp facing off against compatriot Chris Scott, Canada's Cameron Wharram and America's former National Football League player Matthew Stankiewitch.

Qualifying tightly, the open women's 500m title is likely to be fought between 2020 champion Buryak, Bianca Piloseno of the United States and Jade Lally of Britain.

Piloseno won bronze last year whilst Lally is a British record holder for indoor rowing.

Of the three competitors in the the oldest age group category for the men's 95-99, US' Dean Smith qualified quickest with a time of 10:01.6 as compatriot Frederik Osbourne and France's Georges Basse followed.

This is the second time the event has been held completely virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.