Cyclocross

Adrie van der Poel says ‘crossers need to race on the road more to beat Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel

Former rider and father of Mathieu says he predicted Wout van Aert's victory in Boom after analyzing his Strava data.

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Adrie van der Poel is pulling no punches.

The former racer and father of Mathieu has warned the men’s cyclocross field need to up their game or risk being overwhelmed by his son and Wout van Aert.

Van Aert stunned the CX pack in Boom on Saturday in his debut ‘cross appearance of the season, beating Toon Aerts, Lars Van Der Haar, and Eli Iserbyt by nearly two minutes. Van der Poel senior said they needed better road campaigns in the summer to keep up with the duo in the winter.

“Wout and Mathieu ride at the top level all year round, in major races. The other crossers only participate in smaller competitions in the summer to do something. Of course, the difference is big,” van der Poel told Het Nieuwsblad.

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“And it will only get bigger. If Iserbyt and co. want to compete more, they will have to ride more top races in the summer. Not against amateurs who also have to work to earn money. Of course, those continental teams can’t always participate in the big competitions, which is a shame. But certain riders would also turn their noses up at that and are content with what they have.”

Iserbyt was having none of van der Poel’s comments and said the former CX world champion only needed to look within the family to see that the depth of road racing available didn’t always reap big rewards.

The 24-year-old Iserbyt, who contested just 15 UCI road races this year, dominated the early part of the cyclocross season and has won 12 races so far — including five World Cups.

“Adrie doesn’t say anything new. I am under contract with a continental team. In the summer we can ride a few big races. In the future, we are looking at how we can change that,” Iserbyt told Het Nieuwsblad.

“Maybe Adrie should also take a look at his other son. David van der Poel has been able to ride a nice road program for a few years now, but it doesn’t get any better. Combining the road and the field, like Wout and Mathieu, is not for everyone. I am now 24 years old. I still have time to take that step. Wout is already 27, Mathieu soon too. They are now at the top of their game, but initially also chose the quiet path on the road.”

Predicting van Aert’s win

Despite van Aert picking up a cold in the build-up to Boom, van der Poel was pretty sure the Belgian would romp away with the victory after seeing his training data. Van Aert stayed away from the “Kristallen Fiets” awards show last week after he fell ill with a cold, but the brief sickness did not appear to hold him back in the muddy conditions Saturday.

“Last week I told Toon Aerts’ father that Wout would win by one minute,” he said. “We knew that Wout was going well because he puts all his data on Strava. He did quite a lot of training with a lot of ‘cross training. We were able to predict that he would produce a top performance.”

Mathieu van der Poel has not yet made his first CX appearance this season, but he is expected to do so at the World Cup round in Rucphen on December 18, which is due to be contested behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions. His first battle with van Aert – and Tom Pidcock – is set to be in Dendermonde on December 26.

Van der Poel junior will defend his CX world title in Fayetteville on January 30, while van Aert has not yet confirmed if he’ll make the journey to the U.S.

“I’ve no idea how his training is going. He’s very relaxed at the moment and is riding very little after a tough season. He deliberately chose to enjoy a long off-season, so we’ll see,” van der Poel senior said of his son.

“If the Dendermonde course is again like last year, then the winner is already known: Wout. Mathieu’s goals are a lot further down the road.”