This Sunday, defending World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) makes his return to the field at Superprestige Ruddervoorde.
Van der Poel is coming off an impressive summer of road and mountain bike racing where he won three XCO World Cups and pulled off some impressive finishes on the road.
Van der Poel last raced at the La DH Famenne Ardenne Classic road race at the start of October, and before that, he had raced the World Championships in Yorkshire, where he inexplicably blew up near the end of the race.
When we last saw Van der Poel racing cyclocross, he was winning an eye-popping 32 of the 34 races he started last season, including his last 26 in a row. Among those races was a dominant win at the Bogense World Championships.
In the absence of Van der Poel and Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) so far this season, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) has been the man to beat. Iserbyt has won all three World Cups thus far, and he has six wins overall.
In an interview with Belgium’s De Tribune, Van der Poel commented on his competition.
“Personally I think it is a shame that Van Aert is not there because he has always been my biggest competitor. The biggest challenge too. But maybe I find that challenge now in Eli Iserbyt. It looks like he has taken a big step. But it will only become clear when we have hit a few crosses together what the difference in level is.” (translated)
In that interview, Van der Poel said he chose the early November return after getting some rest and confidence that he is ready to race cyclocross again. “I needed some rest myself and only wanted to return when I had an acceptable level of form,” he said. “I have prepared myself well, I have a good level of form, but it will not be top yet.”
Van der Poel’s upcoming schedule for November includes the European Championships in Italy next weekend and then the Tabor and Koksijde World Cups later in the month.
His full November race schedule is below:
Featured image: Bart Hazen