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Mathieu van der Poel is out of cyclocross hibernation and set to start at the World Cup Hulst on Sunday.
The Dutch national team confirmed Monday that the four-time elite cyclocross world champion will make his season debut this weekend. It will be Van der Poel’s first race in the ‘cross cleats since December last year after injuries derailed much of his 2021-22 winter.
”I think we are all curious about Mathieu’s return to the field. That certainly also applies to Mathieu himself,” Dutch national coach Gerben de Knegt said Monday.
“As a cyclocross rider you often need some time to pick up the technical skills at your first cross, but I am confident that Mathieu will soon get that routine back,” de Knegt said. “Last weekend you also saw with Tom Pidcock that men of this caliber quickly make that adjustment.”
Team officials Monday also confirmed his complete schedule (see below).
Van der Poel raced just twice last cyclocross season as he struggled to shed the back problems that had surfaced in summer. The Alpecin-Fenix ace skipped ‘cross worlds and the “opening weekend” of the road classics as he ironed out the kinks.
De Knegt was quietly confident that Van der Poel could pull a surprise in his 2022-23 debut on a home Dutch course.
The 27-year-old spent three off-season weeks tapping out road miles in south Spain and was this weekend spotted training on his CX machine ahead of the race in Hulst, a circuit where he won four times in four appearances.
“The course in Hulst should certainly suit Mathieu, although we have to wait and see whether the weather will affect the surface there. But if that round is like in recent years, there are nice descents, some running gear and some fast parts,” De Knegt said. “That is certainly something where Mathieu feels at home. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Wout van Aert is expected to make his season debut in Antwerp on December 4. Reigning world champion Tom Pidcock’s next race remains unconfirmed after his back-to-back races last weekend.
Van der Poel’s cyclocross calendar:
27/11: Hulst – World Cup
03/12: Boom – Superprestige
04/12: Antwerp – World Cup
05-14/12: Team camp Spain
17/12: Val di Sole – World Cup
23/12: Mol – Exact Cross
26/12: Gavere – World Cup
27/12: Heusden-Zolder – Superprestige
28/12: Diegem – Superprestige
30/12: Loenhout – Exact Cross
03/01: Herentals – X2O Trophy
05/01: Koksijde – X2O Trophy
08/01: Zonhoven – World Cup
09/01-19/01: Team camp Spain
22/01: Benidorm – World Cup
05/02: Hoogerheide – World Championships