The anticipation was building and now it has been confirmed that Mathieu van der Poel will return to cyclocross this weekend, kicking off his 2022-2023 season at the World Cup in Hulst.
Van der Poel issued a teaser on Sunday by publishing details of a first ‘cross training ride, and on Monday morning the Dutch cycling federation confirmed that the four-time world champion will be back in action on in the Dutch race on Sunday.
Alpecin-Deceuninck revealed Van der Poel’s full schedule, which also includes the World Cups in Antwerp, Val di Sole, Gavere, Zonhoven and Benidorm with racing interrupted by road team camps in Spain from 5-14 December and 9-19 January.
His early schedule also includes the Superprestige rounds in Boom, Heusden-Zolder and Diegem, the X2O Trophy races in Herentals and Koksijde, the Exact Cross in Mol and Leonhout.
“I think we are all curious about Mathieu’s return to the field. That certainly also applies to Mathieu himself,” said national coach Gerben de Knegt.
“As a cyclo-cross rider you often need some time to pick up the technical skills at your first cross, but I am confident that Mathieu will soon get that routine back. Last weekend you also saw with Tom Pidcock that men of this caliber quickly make that adjustment.”
Tom Pidcock was the first multi-discipline star to kick off his season, starting with the Superprestige in Merksplas on Saturday and then the World Cup round in Overijse on Sundaywhere the current World Champion came second.
Wout van Aert’s Jumbo-Visma team has said he won’t be back racing cyclocross until December 4, after two months off following the Road World Championships in Australia. He will be starting his season with the World Cup in Antwerp, where we should have the first clash between the ‘big three’.
Van der Poel ended his road season at the Giro del Veneto on October 12 after pulling out of the World Championships road race in Australia due to an altercation in his hotel, for which he was charged with assault and fined. After a brief break, he has since been in Spain, building the base for his cyclo-cross and road season.
The World Cup series is already six rounds in, starting in the US in early October, but the three multi-discipline powerhouses of the men’s racing, Van der Poel, Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert haven’t been present in the earlier rounds, as usual taking a break from the road season before entering the fray.
On Sunday, Van der Poel took to the woods of Kasterlee with his brother and teammate, David, with a Strava entry titled ‘Testing the bikes’. The pair’s father, Adrie van der Poel, also posted a tweet which said “First CX training done”.
The Dutch federation has included him in its quota for the seventh round of the World Cup in Hulst, where he has won on four occasions.
“The course in Hulst should certainly suit Mathieu, although we have to wait and see whether the weather will affect the surface there,” said De Knegt.
“But if that circuit is like in recent years, there are nice descents, some running sections and some fast parts. That is certainly something where Mathieu feels at home. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
|Row 0 – Cell 0||Row 0 – Cell 1|
|27/11||Hulst – World Cup|
|03/12||Boom – Superprestige|
|04/12||Antwerp – World Cup|
|05-14/12||Team camp Spain|
|17/12||Val di Sole – World Cup|
|23/12||Mol – Exact Cross|
|26/12||Gavere – World Cup|
|27/12||Heusden-Zolder – Superprestige|
|28/12||Diegem – Superprestige|
|30/12||Loenhout – Exact Cross|
|03/01||Herentals – X2O Trophy|
|05/01||Koksijde – X2O Trophy|
|08/01||Zonhoven – World Cup|
|09/01-19/01||Team camp Spain|
|22/01||Benidorm – World Cup|
|28-29/01||To be discussed|
|05/02||Hoogerheide – World Championships|