Three-time elite cyclo-cross world champion Mathieu van der Poel makes his 2020-21 season debut on the cross circuit this weekend with back-to-back starts at X²0 badkamers Trofee-Scheldecross in Antwerpen on Saturday and Telenet Superprestige in Gavere on Sunday.
According to reports by Wielerflits, Van der Poel has nine races on his schedule leading up to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Ostend at the end of January. While he does plan to race the Superprestige race at Zolder the day after Christmas and GP Sven Nys at Baal on the first day of the new year, the remaining three World Cups are missing from his lineup. He won all five World Cup events he entered last season, and swept the six he raced the year before that.
The weekend of January 9-10 will see 12 National Championship competitions for European countries, including Van der Poel seeking his seventh consecutive Dutch title.
The duel with rival Wout van Aert will have to wait two more weeks, as the Jumbo-Visma rider is in Spain at a training camp with the road team and is not expected to be on the start line again for ‘cross until the next World Cup on December 20 at Namur, according to reports by Wielerflits.
Last weekend, Van Aert placed third at both the X²O Badkamers Trofee in Kortrijk and the opening round of the World Cup in Tabor. He will go head-to-head against Van der Poel in his next three races, which include Namur, Herentals and Baal, but may not see him again until the Worlds on January 31.
Van der Poel and Van Aert have shared the past six elite men’s world titles in cyclo-cross. Last year Van der Poel won his third elite World Championship in cyclo-cross in February, while Van Aert finished one spot off the podium in fourth.
Their rivalry, which Van der Poel downplays, transferred to the road this season. Van Aert claimed his first Monument at Milan-San Remo in August and Van der Poel responded by edging the Belgian at the line to win the Tour of Flanders in October.
Mathieu van der Poel's 2020-21 Cyclo-cross Calendar
- December 12: Antwerpen (X2O badkamers Trofee-Scheldecross)
- December 13: SP Gavere (Telenet Superprestige)
- December 20: Namur, Belgium WC
- December 23: Herentals (X2O Bathrooms Trophy Cyclocross)
- December 26: SP Zolder (Telenet Superprestige)
- December 30: Bredene (Ethias Cross)
- January 1: GP Baal (X2O badkamers Trofee – GP Sven Nys)
- January 9: Dutch Cyclo-cross Championships in Zaltbommel
- January 23 - Hamme (X2O Bathrooms Trophy Cyclocross)
- January 31: UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, Ostende, Belgium
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