Alpecin-Deceuninck have announced the cyclocross calendar of Mathieu van der Poel with the reigning World Champion taking on 13 races this season.
The Dutchman will start his cyclocross season with Exact Cross in Mol on December 22 and compete regularly over the following six weeks before concluding his campaign at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor on February 4.
The schedule is broadly similar to his cyclocross campaigns in the recent 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons in which he competed in 14 and 15 races, respectively. He is, however, starting his season at a later date than either – last year he got underway on November 27.
Last season, he won six of his 14 races before earning with another world title after a memorable duel against rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in Hoogerheide.
This season, he’ll take on six rounds of the UCI World Cup, including Antwerp (December 23), Gavere (December 26), Hulst (December 30), Zonhoven (January 7), Benidorm (January 21) and Hoogerheide (January 28). Three rounds of the X2O Trofee series – Baal, Koksijde and Hamme – are also on his schedule along with Exact Cross rounds at Mol and Loenhout.
Van der Poel’s big goal of the season, however, will be capturing a sixth elite men’s world title after taking the rainbow stripes in 2015, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023. He also won junior world titles in 2012 and 2013. In 2024, the Worlds will be held in the Czech city of Tabor, the site of his first elite title back in 2015.
The 2023-24 ‘cross season will see Van der Poel compete every few days with only one major gap in the schedule between the World Cups in Zonhoven and Benidorm in January. As was the case last year, the break should see him link up with his Alpecin-Deceuninck team for a pre-road season training camp.
Van der Poel recently confirmed the broad outline of his cyclocross season, stating that racing a limited campaign through the winter helps him prepare for the following Classics season on the road.
With his season schedule now confirmed, he’ll now be waiting to see which races his ‘cross and road rivals Van Aert and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) will be competing in.
“I’ll start my cyclocross season in late December. It’ll be the same as last year, with 10 to 15 races and the World Championships as the last goal,” Van der Poel said recently at the Madrid Criterium.
“Cyclocross is something I’ve done since I was a little kid. I think a Classic on the road is very similar to a cyclocross race; the only…