Van Aert and Van der Poel set for six showdowns in Christmas cyclocross season

Van der Poel Van Aert Namur Cyclocross

As the thrill of cyclocross battles between Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel subsides, the cycling community adjusts to a new schedule where the pair will only meet six times during the festive ‘Kerstperiode’. Van Aert is to commence his season earlier than Van der Poel, with his first race at the Exact Cross in Essen slated for December 9. The two giants will first compete head-to-head this season at the Exact Cross in Mol on December 22, marking Van der Poel’s season debut.

Subsequent encounters between Van Aert and Van der Poel are scheduled during the UCI World Cup rounds in Antwerp, Gavere, and Hulst, and at the Superprestige in Heusden-Zolder on December 27. However, Van der Poel will not compete against Van Aert at Heusden-Zolder, as he has Superprestige Diegem and Exact Cross Loenhout on his itinerary for December 28 and 29, respectively.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the season, Van Aert shared on Jumbo-Visma’s website that he eagerly anticipates returning to cyclocross and the unique atmosphere brought by the fans. He also revealed his decision to participate in a reduced number of events compared to last season’s 14, a strategy intended to preserve his mental and physical readiness for the Spring Classics.

Van Aert further acknowledged that achieving peak form would be challenging with fewer races to build up his condition. Despite facing a different approach this season, he remains focused on showcasing his capabilities in the limited races he has planned. To commence the new year, Van Aert will compete in the X2O Trofee round in Baal, otherwise known as the GP Sven Nys, on January 1, followed by the X2O Trofee in Koksijde three days later, where encounters with Van der Poel are anticipated.

However, Van Aert’s participation in the Zonhoven and Benidorm World Cups remains uncertain due to the proximity to his team’s training camp, which could lead to unwanted fatigue before the road season. On the other hand, Van der Poel intends to race in both events, potentially aligning them with Alpecin-Deceuninck’s camp in Spain as per this year’s schedule.

Van der Poel aims to cap off his cyclocross season by participating in the X2O Trofee in Hamme, the World Cup in Hoogerheide, and defending his world title in Tabor on February 4. As we witness these cyclocross titans navigate a season with fewer direct confrontations, their chosen paths reflect a strategic approach to balancing cyclocross passion with the broader demands of their cycling careers.

Wout van Aert’s 2023-24 Cyclocross Schedule

  • December 9 – Exact Cross Essen
  • December 22 – Exact Cross Mol
  • December 23 – UCI World Cup Antwerp
  • December 26 – UCI World Cup Gavere
  • December 27 – Superprestige Heusden-Zolder
  • December 30 – UCI World Cup Hulst
  • January 1 – X2O Trofee Baal/GP Sven Nys
  • January 4 – X2O Trofee Koksijde
  • January 7 – UCI World Cup Zonhoven (uncertain)
  • January 21 – UCI World Cup Benidorm (uncertain)

Mathieu van der Poel’s 2023-24 Cyclocross Schedule

  • December 22 – Exact Cross Mol
  • December 23 – UCI World Cup Antwerp
  • December 26 – UCI World Cup Gavere
  • December 28 – Superprestige Diegem
  • December 29 – Exact Cross Loenhout
  • December 30 – UCI World Cup Hulst
  • January 1 – X2O Trofee Baal/GP Sven Nys
  • January 4 – X2O Trofee Koksijde
  • January 7 – UCI World Cup Zonhoven
  • January 21 – UCI World Cup Benidorm
  • January 27 – X2O Trofee Hamme
  • January 28 – UCI World Cup Hoogerheide
  • February 4 – UCI World Championships Tabor

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