Mathieu van der Poel's long-awaited return to cyclocross is set to take place this Sunday at the Hulst World Cup, not far from the Alpecin-Deceuninck's home in the Netherlands. He is ambitious from the get go, he admits.
“When I start, I want to win,” van der Poel said in a press conference this Friday. “That was the case in the past and it is still the goal today. Cyclocross is no longer my main activity, but it is the intention to win.” A rider with his past in the discipline could hardly ambition something else, however with the competition of Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock and the likes of Laurens Sweeck and Eli Iserbyt who've won most races so far this season, he will not have an easy time.
"My story is completely different from what has been told" - Mathieu van der Poel on World Championships altercation
Last season van der Poel returned to cyclocross in the Christmas period only, but very quickly suffered from acute back pain which he began experiencing after his crash at the 2021 Olympic Games MTB race. He finished second in Dendermonde, but abandoned his second race at Heusden-Zolder, his final race of the season as he was forced to take rest.
Now, a year later, he returns to the off-road racing with the goal of becoming World Champion in Hoogerheide again. He will have two months to gather his best form and collect UCI points to be able to have front row starts throughout the races. You can check van der Poel's full cyclocross schedule for this winter by clicking here.