Mathieu van der Poel has revealed he will ride between 10 and 15 cyclocross races this winter and try to defend his world title in Tabor, but he said his summer and Olympic goals have still to be decided due to the dilemma of trying to combine road racing with mountain biking in Paris.
Van der Poel is already back in training and won the Madrid Criterium on Sunday. He has also been training in Spain and will start a two-month block of cyclocross racing in December.
“Unfortunately my holidays are over and I’m back in training for the cyclocross season,” Van der Poel told La Gazzetta dello Sport in Madrid after a day of signing autographs, riding city bikes and exhibition racing in central Madrid.
“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.”
“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 difference is that you have to race five hours before. Now I manage to be pretty fresh at the end of long races. The process started a couple of years ago and now I think I’m at my best on the road as well.”
While many cyclocross riders ride close to 40 races during a winter, Van der Poel, like his biggest rivals Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock, combine racing with road training, taking the explosive efforts needed for cyclocross into the spring Classics. They race a reduced cyclocross calendar around the Christmas holidays and until the World Championships before focusing on road racing.
Van der Poel won his fifth cyclocross world title in Hoogerheide last winter and he then went on to win Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships road race in Glasgow. He was second to Tadej Pogacar at the Tour of Flanders and second in the E3 Saxo Bank race behind lifelong rival Wout van Aert.
Now he wants to take on the Classics in the rainbow jersey.
“I’m looking forward to 2024 and racing the Classics in the rainbow jersey,” Van der Poel said.
“I don’t really have any goals left in cyclocross, so my goals have switched to the road and this year I was very lucky. I have a few dreams left and this year I won three of them in one season, so it’s been an incredible season for me. I really enjoyed it.
“My goals will be the same in the Classics. It’ll be hard to win again but I want to try. I want to win a Classic wearing the…