Wout van Aert is set to return to cyclocross on the 4th of December in the Antwerp World Cup. Last year he won 9 out of 10 races and looked to be the dominant figure in his short stint in the discipline, however he's not sure if he can replicate that this winter.
"Actually, I would have liked to have been there in Kortrijk this coming weekend. But I think I'm not ready for that conditionally," van Aert said in an interview with Sporza. "Due to illness and a longer inactivity, I'm a little less advanced than I would like."
He had initially planned to make his debut off-road this coming weekend, and face both Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel in Hulst, however he's decided to postpone it a week. In the bigger picture, a rather insignificant decision.
"The cold didn't seem bad enough to rest. I then started exercising and cycling again, which made the cold worse. In the end I had to take antibiotics. As a result, I started my preparation with a lower level. I have been able to prepare well in recent weeks. But it is difficult to estimate where I will finish in the first cross," he admits.
"Of course I hope to compete for the win as soon as possible, especially during the Christmas period. I consider the first crosses this season as a run-up. Hopefully the level will return soon and I can work towards the World Championships," the Jumbo-Visma rider shared. He's aiming high at the Hoogerheide World Championships where he will seek a fourth rainbow jersey, but will have tough competition.
"It's the only race where I make a very big goal," he admits. "But in the end I think all crosses in which I participate are important, because every cross feels like coming home. The World Championships is the only competition that I really peak at."