Cyclocross

‘Three kings of cross’ to clash only three times this cyclocross season

Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert, and Mathieu van der Poel outline CX schedules, and right now, the stars will align only on three occasions.

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It’s time to mark three big red cyclocross circles in your calendar.

Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert have confirmed their respective CX schedules for the winter, and it looks like the sport’s “big three” will go toe-to-toe just three times.

The Dendermonde World Cup will kick-start at week of festive throwdowns December 26. Van Aert, van der Poel and Pidcock will spare again shortly afterward at Superprestige Diegem (December 30), and a third time time at the World Cup round in Hulst (January 2).

And U.S. fans, fear not.

There’s still a chance all three kings of ‘cross will take to the start line of the world championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in January.

Defending champ van der Poel confirmed he will be flying stateside in the quest for a fifth world title, and Pidcock is committed to stopping him. Van Aert may be the one big name missing when the action hits Arkansas, but he’s still not ruling it out.

Pidcock’s title triple

Pidcock will be all-in for the Fayetteville worlds after leaving disappointed with fourth in the 2020-21 championships. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty)

Pidcock was the last of the three to reveal his racing plans after taking an extended off-season to rehab a nagging kee injury.

Het Laatste Nieuws reported Thursday that the British ace will take on a 13-‘cross schedule packed into less than two months, all with an aim on reaching the rainbow at the end.

“That world title is our goal,” said Pidcock’s coach Kurt Bogaerts. “Fayetteville is a course with opportunities for Tom, we saw that in the World Cup race [in October]. If he makes the flight to the United States, it’s not just to participate. His ultimate goal is to become world champion in three disciplines.”

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Alongside van der Poel, Pidcock is one of the few racers in the modern peloton capable of scoring a set of road, mountain bike and cyclocross world titles.

With an Olympic MTB gold medal, second-place finish in the 2019-20 ‘cross worlds, and a string of top road results already in his trophy cabinet it’s well within the 22-year-old’s reach.

Balancing the three ambitions could be the highest hurdle the brash young Brit has to leap.

Pidcock spent much of the off-season on the sofa recovering from a busy late-season that saw him race his first grand tour with Ineos Grenadiers, he’ll come into the ‘cross season cold at Superprestige Boom on December 4.

Pidcock’s road priorities will also take him away from the fat tires and filthy weather of cyclocross for a week when he joins his road teammates at a training camp in Calpe on January 3.

“Tom will start [cyclocross] in Boom in basic condition, with zero preparation. I don’t expect much from it, it’s been a long break. But he is very excited about it,” Bogaerts said.

“We keep racing because it’s good for him. But it’s not possible to be top all the time. The road season is becoming increasingly important. If there is also a grand tour in it, then he takes away from his condition with specific preparation for ‘cross.”

Pidcock will pack seven World Cup appearances into his 13-race schedule, allowing him the opportunity to amass the UCI points needed to land him at the front of the start-pen in Fayetteville. Van der Poel is likewise putting his focus on the Cup competition.

Van Aert sits on fence

Van Aert still hasn’t committed to worlds as he looks forward to big ambitions at Roubaix, Flanders. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Van Aert is the one outlier in provisionally bypassing the Arkansas worlds.

After missing out on his big goals in the cobblestone classics this year, the Belgian baller doesn’t want a U.S. trip to interrupt his training so soon before the curtain-raising “opening weekend” of one-dayers.

Van Aert and his coach haven’t totally ruled out a flight to Fayetteville, however.

Also read: Van Aert on Roubaix disappointment: ‘I wasn’t good enough’

“I don’t want to say that there is no chance that Wout will drive the world championships,” Belgian coach Sven Vanthourenhout told Het Laatste Nieuws.

“As far as he is concerned, it remains to be seen how things will go in the field in the coming weeks. Is Wout going to expand his current program a bit? That is possible, but that will depend more on the circumstances.”

Eli Iserbyt, Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar have been crushing the ‘cross season so far. Will it stay that way come December 4?

Bring your beers and fry your frites, cyclocross season is set to get spicey.

Tom Pidcock – tentative schedule
Superprestige Boom, 4 December
Antwerp World Cup, 5 December
Val di Sole World Cup, 12 December
Rucphen World Cup, 18 December
Namur World Cup, 19 December
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, 27 December
Superprestige Diegem, 29 December
Baal, X20 Trofee, 1 January
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Hamme, X20 Trofee, 22 January
Hoogerheide World Cup, 23 January
Fayetteville worlds, 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

Mathieu van der Poel – confirmed schedule
Rucphen World Cup, 18 December
Namur World Cup, 19 December
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