When will Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel face off this winter? Here are the dates
The decade-defining rivalry resurfaces seven times this winter as two terrors of cyclocross head toward world championship clash.
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Bring out your diaries, we’ve got some dates you’ll want to add.
The biggest rivalry of modern pro cycling is set to start a new chapter December 4 when Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert share a startline at the cyclocross World Cup in Antwerp.
And just to sweeten the story further, there are hints the third “king of ‘cross” and reigning world champion Tom Pidcock will be in Antwerp, too.
But the biggest story is perhaps that Van Aert and Van der Poel are expected to face off at least seven times this winter as they make up for lost time after they shared a ‘cross circuit just twice last season.
After Antwerp, the rivalry that stretches back more than a decade will resurface at full speed in five festive ‘crosses. Van Aert and Van der Poel will battle through a brutal five-race program in an eight-day spell over the Christmas “Kersteperiode” in a taste of their world title throwdown in Hoogerheide early February.
Here are the seven dates where we’re certain to see Van der Poel and Van Aert clash in ‘cross.
Van Aert’s program is still a little sketchy and so more dates may surface soon.
Van Aert vs Van der Poel, 2022-23:
- December 4: World Cup Antwerp
- December 23: Exact Cross Mol
- December 26: World Cup Gavere
- December 27: Superprestige Heusden-Zolder
- December 28: Superprestige Diegem
- December 30: Exact Cross Loenhout
- February 5: World Championships, Hoogerheide
A decade-defining rivalry
The Van der Poel-Van Aert rivalry is one of the defining points of the past decade.
The two first saw each others’ faces when learning their cyclocross craft as juniors and have been chasing each others’ muddy wheeltracks since. And better still, the decade-long battle royale spilled into the road classics in the past years.
The Hoogerheide CX worlds next February will come with extra hype after Van Aert and Van der Poel both skipped the Fayetteville race this year.
The two titans shared seven elite ‘cross world championships starts so far, with Van der Poel so far winning the war of the rainbow bands four-three. The Dutchman won their past three ‘cross worlds encounters after Van Aert swept three titles in a row from 2016-18.
“We’ve had some pretty good battles in the past and it starts to become a story of its own,” Van der Poel said after he bettered his Belgian rival in the beachy Ostende worlds last winter.
“You see that it’s also getting bigger than the sport itself the duel between us two, so I think it’s pretty cool to have someone like him. It also benefits me.”
The Brit’s schedule is still to be fully sketched out.
There are good odds of him joining the Van der Poel-Van Aert party at some point this winter, though don’t hope too hard to see him defend his rainbow jersey in Hoogerheide. The Ineos Grenadiers classics captain previously hinted the “opening weekend” of road one-dayers will be his priority when the calendar clicks to 2023.
And guess who else will be there crushing cobblestones and battering up bergs?
You know it.