Both Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert have revealed their cyclocross calendars for the upcoming winter and both of the cross-discipline superstars will be absent from the X2O cross in Herentals. A bitter blow to race organiser, Erwin Vervecken.
"From what I understand, the first team training period is scheduled for that period. There the emphasis is less on cycling but more on photo shoots, trying on clothes... And Wout couldn't avoid that," Vervecken responds to this news in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. "Oh well, last year Essen was the victim. Hardly anyone was at the start there. Now they suddenly get Wout, who is riding his first race there."
Wout van Aert's reduced cyclocross calendar confirmed by Jumbo-Visma; seemingly no Belgian or World Championships
Whilst the added inclusion of the likes of van Aert and van der Poel don't guarantee a more exciting race, their appearances and especially races where the pair go head-to-head are some of the biggest money-spinners in the sport. "Within our organizations, Mol and Baal in particular are the top posters," Vervecken eyes. "In Mol, Wout and Mathieu will look into each other's eyes for the first time. One year is not the same as the next."
Just one of cyclocross's three multi-discipline superstars is yet to announce their calendar. "Hoping for Tom Pidcock, eh," Vervecken concludes. "He is still laying his egg, but he would not be reluctant to face Herentals and he would also appear at the start in Baal. But it is as you say: it is a complicated puzzle to assemble and you rarely know in advance where the puzzle pieces will end up."