Matthieu van der Poel returns to cyclocross this weekend

Mathieu van der Poel returns to cyclocross racing, and is planning a robust racing schedule for November.

Mathieu Van der Poel heads back to the cyclocross circuit this weekend as cycling’s most prolific racing returns from a short break.

The Dutch star missed out on a road cycling world title last month, putting an end to his phenomenal debut on the WorldTour stage earlier this month. After a short break, he heads back to the familiar ground of ruts and mud on the cyclocross circuit.

“After the Famenne Ardenne Classic [October 6], I completely stopped the bike for a week. I have I did nothing at all, just at home,” Van der Poel said Wednesday. “I have resumed the training since mid-October. Of course, I’m [targeting] the cyclocross season but I have hardly done any specific cross-training. I think I’ve been on my dirt bike four times so far.”

Van der Poel is starting his cyclocross later than usual, but cited fatigue and the need for rest. He will race at the Ruddervoorde SuperPrestige on Sunday in Belgium where he will try to win for the fourth time in a row.

“Yes, I want to get there immediately to win,” he said. “I miss competition rhythm, and I will feel that on Sunday. Last year I was at the start with a specific preparation for the cyclocross season, and it’s different now. I will need some racing to get back to my top level.”

The race is part of van der Poel’s robust racing schedule for November. The Dutchman is planning to compete in eight races next month. He will compete in the UEC European Championships in Silvelle, Italy; the UCI World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic; the DVV Trofee race in Hamme, Belgium; and the UCI World Cup in Koksijdge, Belgium, among other races.

Van der Poel, who said he will miss the challenge of his former rival Wout Van Aert, said Eli Iserbyt and Tom Pidcock are emerging as new riders to beat.

“I believe that Sunday can really come to a duel with Eli. Pidcock can also last a long time, I think,” he said. “They both have shown this as promises on several occasions. I’m looking forward to it.”

Van der Poel says he’s intent on defending his cyclocross world title before heading into a full press for the 2020 Olympic Games and a run at the mountain bike gold medal.