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At least two of the biggest European cyclocross stars are set to race at the UCI Cyclocross world championships in January, in Fayetteville.
The sport’s third tenor Wout van Aert remains uncertain about making the long trip across the channel, however.
Why? The spring classics kick start just one month afterward, that’s why, and van Aert is concerned that jet lag and travel stress would detract from his final build to the European one-dayers.
The four-week turnaround doesn’t seem to have even crossed triple defending champion van der Poel’s mind.
“We’ve not discussed it, for the simple reason that we assume that we will ride that world championships with Mathieu,” van der Poel’s team director Christoph Roodhooft told Het Laatste Nieuws this week.
“I don’t really see why we should drop the worlds. Sure, it’s a bit of an ‘ambitious’ move. But I don’t feel that Mathieu has already reached a point in his career where he can just delete those things.”
Like van der Poel, Pidcock is willing to take the long flight to Arkansas to race for the rainbow jersey.
“We see it as an international sport and a young rider like him has to be able to deal with the circumstances,” said Pidcock’s coach, Kurt Bogaerts.
“Of course, it is easier to combine a cyclocross world championship in Belgium with the classic spring on the road than a world championships in the U.S., but it is inevitably part of it. Tom also realizes very well that cyclocross has brought him to his current level, so he shows respect for that sport.”
Van Aert’s quest for cobblestone glory may well surpass a hunt for a fourth cyclocross world title in January. The Belgian has placed Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders at the center of his season after coming away disappointed this year, and wants as clear a runway into the classics as possible.
“The spring classics are my priority, and we will draw up the ‘cross calendar accordingly,” van Aert said this week. “The decision about the worlds has not yet been made.”
Also read: CX season preview
Pidcock and van der Poel are both likely to make their CX season debuts in the coming month.
Pidcock posted on Instagram this week to confirm that he’s back in training after resolving a nagging case of tendinitis, while van der Poel’s cryptic message on social media Monday similarly suggested he’s returned to the saddle after resting his problematic back.
Bogarts indicated to HLN that Pidcock has penciled in Superprestige Boom on December 4 as his first race of the 2021-22 ‘cross calendar. Van der Poel will likely return at a similar time.
“He will prepare for worlds all winter long,” Bogaerts said of his young charge. “It would upgrade the discipline if both Wout, Mathieu, and Tom started in Fayetteville. The absolute top, so to speak.”
Surely Wout won’t want to miss the party, will he? Stay tuned to find out.