"I now get a lot more pleasure from the cross than before" - Wout van Aert on changes of approach on the eve of cyclocross debut

Wout van Aert is on the verge of beginning his cyclocross season, as he takes on the World Cup in Antwerp this Sunday as his first event of the winter, following an illness which had him postpone his original plans.

"Sunday feels like the right time to start again. I've watched the last races on television and it's starting to itch again," the Jumbo-Visma rider said in a press release. “I am not involved in that myself. Last year I was immediately good and now people expect the same. What I did last year should not be considered normal.”

Last year the Belgian started his season in the Superprestige Boom - which will be taking place today. He won straight from day one, and Mathieu van der Poel has matched that achievement last week in Hulst. The two will battle alongside Tom Pidcock who is on rising form, and the likes of Eli Iserbyt, Laurens Sweeck and Michael Vanthourenhout who are fighting for the World Cup - alongside Lars van der Haar who sits behind.

“But I don't put pressure on myself for a cross. Those years are over," van Aert admits. Having his focus in the Hoogerheide World Championships mean that most of the December events will have the purpose of having him back in race rhythm and performing at his best level. "I now get a lot more pleasure from the cross than before when the pressure to win was still very high," he concluded.

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