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Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) will skip the 2022 UCI world cyclocross championships, January 29-30, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The three-time world champion told Het Nieuwsblad that his decision to not pursue a fourth title was not influenced by the recent announcement that Mathieu van der Poel will not contest for another worlds win, either.
“Whether his decision changes my choice? No. I’m going to ride my last cross of this winter on Sunday,” he said.
“It’s a question that has been asked for a long time and keeps coming back, but actually it was always the intention not to ride the world championships. Of course, the enthusiasm was great, but we have now decided to stick to the initial plan and to prepare for the road season after Sunday,” said van Aert.
Van Aert won seven of seven starts in ‘cross races in the 2021-22 season. He was undefeated through the first weekend in January when a mechanical issue on the first lap of the race in Hulst knocked him out of contention. Tom Pidcock went on to win the Hulst World Cup.
The Belgian multi-surface phenom again has road racing on his mind, following a compressed ‘cross season. His 2021 road campaign ended in mid-October.
Van Aert wants to focus his attention and energy on the Tour of Flanders and/or Paris-Roubaix, and then grand tour season, and not be saddled with travel, training, and recovery that distracts from his road ambitions.
“’Cross is still my first love and I still love it. That’s why I’ve put so much energy into it over the past few weeks. Still, we think it’s going to be hard to do both. We have thought it through carefully and hopefully, that will yield something in the spring,” van Aert commented.
“The trip to the United States is not only the big problem. It is also mentally difficult. I would then stretch my cyclocross season three weeks. Now, I have an extra four weeks to prepare for the road season,” he added.