“I still love cyclo-cross so much. ” The declaration of love seems clear. But Mathieu van der Poel must concede that between him and his discipline of heart, some pitfalls have piled up over the years. “I had new goals, I found them on the mountain bike and on the road“, explains the double winner of the Tour of Flanders (2020, 2022), this Thursday in the columns of The team.
Besides Van der Poel’s career choices, it was his physical glitches that dictated his move away from the undergrowth. “I miss it, but this lack is mostly related to my back problemshe recalls, before his resumption this Sunday in Hulst. I can’t wait to start over. I kinda feel like it’s been two years since I’ve done cyclo-cross (…) I did one and a half last year (a 2nd place at the key, editor’s note).”
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I don’t have much to gain in cyclo-cross
The star of the Alpecin-Deceuninck team plans to compete in fourteen cyclo-cross events this season. He has no ambition in the World Cup, where Eli Iserbyt, Laurens Sweeck, Michael Vanthourenhout or other Lars van der Haar have already set sail. On the other hand, he is aiming for a fifth planetary coronation: “The Worlds in Hoogerheide (“at home” in the Netherlands, February 5, editor’s note) must be my only goal this year.”
“I don’t have much to gain in cyclo-cross“, he supports, while specifying that he does not intend to make up the numbers until the World Championships. An understatement, for a rider of his caliber. Even with the road season in mind, he has in the legs enough to collect victories.The fact remains that one can wonder about the way he steers his boat and juggles with his different hats.
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No cyclocross? “I thought about it”
Nicolas Fritsch, our consultant, judged “nonsensical” the year 2022 of “MVDP”, focusing its criticism on the Dutchman’s road calendar. Will it ever be time for the 27-year-old phenomenon to give it a shot at a “real” off-season? “I thought about itreplied Van der Poel. But I still love cyclo-cross. I have fun. Winter would be really long without it.” His versatility remains an asset, in his eyes: “It’s a sport I’ve always practiced and I think there are more positives than negatives to be drawn from it, especially in view of the classics. It is a very good preparation.”
The CX is also an opportunity to extend his common history with Wout van Aert. “There is rivalry, but it is only sporting. We’ve been fighting each other for many yearssays the grandson of Raymond Poulidor. We have already had some good opposition in cyclo-cross, it would be nice if we could do it again this year. ” From December 4, in Antwerp, the two leaders have an appointment. Their duel gained in resonance on the asphalt but it found source in the undergrowth. If only for that, one can think that Van der Poel – like “WVA” – will never shun them.
Van der Poel – Van Aert, a duo of stars makes the start
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