With an extended break in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup until the next rounds at Namur on December 23 and Zolder on December 26, some of the discipline's top riders will head to Spain for two weeks of intensive training to prepare for the second half of their seasons and establish a base for the road campaigns that follow.
European champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), world champion Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon) and World Cup leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) are among those who will head for warmer temperatures to the south, according to a report on Nieuwsblad.be.
Van der Poel will spend his time in Benicassim, while Van Aert will head to Calpe to get in the kilometres, and Aerts will be on Mallorca.
"I will spend many hours on my bike," Van der Poel told the Belgian press after his 13th win on Sunday in Koksijde. "I do need the endurance training, because during the cyclo-cross season the focus is not really extensive."
Van Aert agreed that the long training rides he can achieve in Spain are crucial not only for the rest of the 'cross season, but also for his hoped-for spring races on the road.
Cyclingnews reported last week that although the UCI gave Van Aert permission to seek a new road team for 2019 after his bitter split from Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, the governing body may still take action against him should he lose the legal case against his former team in the Belgian courts. The time in Spain will also be a chance to refocus his mind on racing after a fall full of difficulty.
"We have to do this to keep our basic condition up to standard," the world champion said, according to Nieuwsblad.be. "In addition, I am going to train a lot of uphill. I can always put the right intensity in those efforts, and that usually works well for me. I usually come back from that session better."
Aerts, who took the World Cup lead with two wins at the opening rounds in the US back in September, does not have a road season to think about and said his first days on the Mediterranean island will be reserved for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
"The first days I will rest first and mentally let everything drop," said Aerts, who also leads the DVV verzekeringen trofee. "Defending a lead in two rankings is quite tough. After that, duration and interval training will follow together with my younger teammate Andreas Goeman."