Mathieu van der Poel has been god-like in the 2023 ‘cross season, absolutely annihilating the field in every race he’s entered. He took the win on Boxing Day at UCI Cross World Cup in Gavere, Belgium with ease. At the Antwerp edition–which marked the first meeting of the Big Three, the world champ also took the win–even more impressively, making his way through the field and eventually putting half a minute into Wout van Aert. By the looks of things, barring incident or accident, the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider should repeat at the ‘cross worlds in Tábor, Czech Republic.
Relocate for the winter
MvdP has decided to spend the winter in Spain, as opposed to his regular home in Belgium. Alpecin-Deceuninck directeur sport Christoph Roodhooft said this has made a huge difference. In an interview with Het Nieuwsblad, he says his training and day-to-day is much easier.
“The chance that he will be distracted there in Spain is simply much less. There is always something going on at home in Belgium, even if it is just means having to go to the recycling center,” Roodhooft said. “He doesn’t do much more than train and thenrest in Spain. You can best compare it to a long training camp. Additionally, you use less energy to complete your training because of the better weather conditions.”
He’s also had no problems with his back, which plagued some of his 2022 season.
“The past 14 months have passed smoothly and peacefully. Everything has gone according to plan, without any illnesses or accidents whatsoever,” he added. “Mathieu has reached an age where a lot of things are falling into place. He feels good and technically it’s almost flawless. His bike is perfect, his position is ideal. It’s going just fine, end of the line.”
The only rider that has historically been able to compete with van der Poel, his Belgian rival van Aert, is riding a condensed ‘cross season, as is former CX world champion Tom Pidcock. They both won’t be there to race against van der Poel at the worlds.
“This is the best Mathieu I’ve ever seen in cyclocross. At this time of the season, still before New Year, we’ve never seen a better Mathieu van der Poel,” Roodhooft added. “He clearly stands out above the rest of the field. At this stage of the season he has never performed better.”
The world champion will…