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The cyclocross world will have to wait one more week for Mathieu van der Poel.
Four-time world champ van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team announced Monday that a slow-healing knee injury has postponed the Dutchman’s CX return by one week.
Van der Poel will now make his ‘cross debut in Dendermonde on December 26 after scrapping his initial plan to restart on home turf in Rucphen this Saturday.
“This has been decided by the rider and team management after consulting with the team’s performance and medical staff,” explained a statement from the team.
“The main reason for this is the healing process of his knee injury which takes longer than initially anticipated, as a result of which he has not yet been able to complete specific CX training.”
‼️ World Champion @mathieuvdpoel‘s season debut in CX will be postponed by a week. The World Champion will return to competition in Dendermonde on Dec 26.
— Alpecin-Fenix Cycling Team (@AlpecinFenix) December 13, 2021
Missing this weekend’s racing means van der Poel will have just five weeks to prepare for his world title defense in Fayetteville on January 30. He will now pack nine races into one month before he flies Stateside in the quest to secure a fifth cyclocross rainbow jersey.
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The news makes for the latest setback in a late-season that has seen van der Poel on the medic’s table more than he’s been on the racing startline.
His somersaulting crash at the Olympic mountain bike race in July saw him on the sidelines for several weeks, forcing out of the MTB worlds due to back injuries that he only resolved in the past month.
Van der Poel is said to have picked up his recent knee problem after a fall in training at the turn of this month.
Wielerflits reported last week that the injury didn’t require stitching, but did force “MvdP” off the bike for several days ahead of a team camp in Spain.
The delayed restart means that van der Poel will miss both the Rucphen and Namur World Cups this weekend. His return to action at the World Cup in Dendemonde after Christmas will see him land directly into battle with both Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert in a heavyweight three-way throwdown.
Mathieu van der Poel 2021-22 CX schedule
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, 27 December
Superprestige Diegem, 29 December
Loenhout, X20 Trofee, 30 December
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Herentals, X20 Trofee, 5 January
Dutch championships, 9 January
Hamme, X20 Trofee, 22 January
Hoogerheide World Cup, 23 January
Fayetteville worlds, 30 January