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Cyclocross

Mathieu van der Poel to kick-start ‘cross campaign in late December

Report indicates van der Poel will return to racing at the Rucphen World Cup on December 18 ahead of clash with Wout van Aert one week later.

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Mathieu van der Poel will be returning to the mud and guts of the cyclocross winter on December 18.

Het Laatste Nieuws reports defending ‘cross world champion van der Poel will race five World Cups through the new year period ahead of his title defense in Fayetteville.

The first race on the Dutchman’s reported program will be on home soil at the UCI World Cup Rucphen, one week before Christmas. He will follow that up with four more races in the following 15 days.

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Van der Poel has not raced across any discipline since his dazzling ride at Paris-Roubaix early October. The past seven weeks have seen the 26-year-old busy with medics and physiotherapists as he rehabbed the back injury he sustained at the Olympics MTB race.

Now that van der Poel has been cleared as injury-free and ready to race, the question on everyone’s lips is – when will the first showdown with archrival Wout van Aert be?

Expect to see the two cross-discipline stars go head-to-head at the Dendermonde World Cup on December 26. Initial reports indicate that may be the only time the two toe the same startline all winter.

Van der Poel’s sparse pre-worlds schedule contrasts that of van Aert. The Jumbo-Visma ace has announced an itinerary starting December 4 at Superprestige Boom, packing a total of 12 races into five weeks.

Rising superstar Tom Pidcock is similarly expected to debut in Boom.

Van der Poel has previously indicated his intentions to fly Stateside to race for a fifth cyclocross rainbow jersey in Fayetteville at the end of January, where he will likely be joined by Pidcock. Van der Poel’s World Cup-focussed program will enable him to amass UCI points to gain a favorable spot in the start-pen for the worlds.

Van Aert is still uncertain over a trip to Arkansas for fears of disruption to final preparations for the “opening weekend” of the classics, February 26 and 27.

Mathieu van der Poel – reported race schedule
Rucphen World Cup, 18 December
Namur World Cup, 19 December
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, 27 December
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Fayetteville world championships, 30 January

Wout van Aert – confirmed schedule 
Superprestige Boom, 4 December
Antwerp World Cup, 5 December
Essen, Ethias Cross, 11 December
Val di Sole World Cup, 12 December
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, 27 December
Superprestige Diegem, 29 December
Loenhout, X20 Trofee, 30 December
Baal, X20 Trofee, 1 January
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Herentals, X20 Trofee, 5 January
Belgian championships, 9 January