Mathieu van der Poel to start cyclo-cross season in late December

Short campaign culminating in the World Championships awaits Dutch star as focus remains on road racing

ClockUpdated 14:58, Thursday 2nd November 2023. Published 11:07, Monday 30th October 2023
Mathieu van der Poel will race in the rainbow jersey in both road and cyclo-cross races in the coming months

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Mathieu van der Poel will race in the rainbow jersey in both road and cyclo-cross races in the coming months

Reigning road and cyclo-cross world champion Mathieu van der Poel will not start his cyclo-cross season until the end of December this year, with only a short campaign of 13 races planned before his focus returns to the road.

Winner of the Madrid Criterium on Sunday, Van der Poel has been showing off his rainbow stripes in various road races in the tail-end of the season, and will only switch to his CX rainbow jersey at the end of the year.

“I will be starting my cyclo-cross season by the end of December, and then a bit the same as last year, 10 to 15 races with the World Championships as my last one,” Van der Poel told Eurosport’s La Montonera programme in Madrid on Sunday.

Read more: UCI World Championships: Mathieu van der Poel takes rainbow with a commanding solo win

His first race will be Exact Cross Mol on December 22, before competing in the festive week of races, and the early January events.

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His fellow members of the so-called ‘big three’ - Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock - have yet to confirm their cyclo-cross calendars, but it seems that, once again, there will only be a short period where viewers will see the big three male riders go head-to-head-to-head in the mud.

In the 2022/23 season, Van der Poel started his ‘cross season at the end of November, and the December races hosted many ‘big three’ battles ahead of Worlds.

As the defending champion and a five-time elite world champion in cyclo-cross, the World Championships is likely to be Van der Poel’s key focus, but he commented that the lack of achievements to tick off on the ‘cross bike is the reason for his ever-shorter CX campaign, instead focusing on the road in recent seasons.

Read more: A beginner's guide to cyclo-cross

“The switch between the disciplines is something I really enjoy, that I don’t have to do one thing all year long,” he said. “But for sure my goals in cyclo-cross, I don’t really have any goals left, so it switched a bit to the road.

“This year I was very lucky - I had a few dreams left [on the road], and this year I checked off three of them in one season [Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships]. It’s been an incredible season for me, I really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to next year to race in this jersey in the Classics races.”

Despite a planned foray into cyclo-cross in the road off-season, it’s clear Van der Poel is already focused on next year, which will include the Classics, some mountain bike World Cups, the Tour de France, mountain biking at the Paris Olympics, and possibly a Vuelta a España debut.

Read more: Mathieu van der Poel may only ride one week of 2024 Tour de France

“It’s an opportunity next year with the Olympics, it’s a special season, so I’m considering, we don’t know yet what I will do, but the Vuelta is an option for next year.”

Now a winner of three Monuments, Van der Poel was also asked about his ambitions of winning all five Monuments, but remained coy about his chances in the remaining two, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia.

“I think it’s going to be difficult. Liège is possible, I did it once and I was not that far off, but Lombardia is a different story, that’s almost a climber's race. Maybe I will go and try it one day but for sure I know it’s going to be really tough. It’s not one of my biggest challenges, I just focus on the races that I can win, and that’s also important.”

Mathieu van der Poel's cyclo-cross calendar 2023/24

  • December 22 - Exact Cross Mol
  • December 23 - UCI World Cup Antwerp
  • December 26 - UCI World Cup Gavere
  • December 28 - Superprestige Diegem
  • December 29 - Exact Cross Loenhout
  • December 30 - UCI World Cup Hulst
  • January 1 - X2O Trofee Baal
  • January 4 - X2O Koksijde
  • January 7 - UCI World Cup Zonhoven
  • January 21 - UCI World Cup Benidorm
  • January 27 - X2O Hamme
  • January 28 - World Cup Hoogerheide
  • February 2 - UCI World Championships Tabor

Watch the best of the cyclocross season live on GCN+, including the World Cup, Superprestige, X2O & Exact series plus the UCI World Championships, with replays available on demand. Territory restrictions apply, check availability here.

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