Racing is training for Wout van Aert, Marianne Vos: ‘Cyclocross plays in service of road season’

Jumbo-Visma's cross-discipline megastars plan intense 'cross season to hone engines for the road classics.

Photo: im de Waele/Getty Images

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Wout van Aert and Marianne Vos will be revving hard in the winter ahead of a startline in spring.

Jumbo-Visma’s two cross-discipline stars have confirmed a punishing ‘cross schedule for the winter as they work toward a red-hot start in the road classics.

“The cross-program is part of a bigger picture, and plays a role in service of the road season,” said Jumbo-Visma head of performance Mathieu Heijboer.

Also read:

Van Aert will return to the mud December 4 before crushing further 11 ‘cross races in just six weeks.

Vos started her cyclocross campaign on a tear by winning the U.S. World Cup rounds in Waterloo and Iowa before taking a break earlier this autumn. She will be looking to pick up where she left off at the Val di Sole World Cup on December 12 as part of a six-race program.

Marianne Vos’ cyclocross schedule 2021-22:
Val di Sole World Cup, 12 December
Rucphen World Cup, 18 December
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Dutch Championship, Zaltbommel, 9 January
Hoogerheide World Cup, 23 January

Wout van Aert’s cyclocross schedule 2021-22:
Superprestige Boom, 4 December
Antwerp World Cup, 5 December
Essen, Ethias Cross, 11 December
Val di Sole World Cup, 12 December
Dendermonde World Cup, 26 December
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, 27 December
Superprestige Diegem, 29 December
Loenhout, X20 Trofee, 30 December
Baal, X20 Trofee, 1 January
Hulst World Cup, 2 January
Herentals, X20 Trofee, 5 January
Belgian championships, 9 January

Balancing ‘cross and classic ambitions

Why such a full-on schedule?

To balance the thirst for racing with time to recover ahead of the spring classics, that’s why. A condensed calendar will give Vos and van Aert some timely high-intensity racing while leaving room for rest ahead of the spring.

“We’ve been puzzling over Wout’s cross and road program in recent weeks,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Merijn Zeeman.

“Wout has had a good vacation and during which he was able to rest and relax a lot. As everyone knows, Wout is very passionate about cyclocross and enjoys the sport immensely.

“This year, we have chosen to ride the more clustered races to reach a high level in cyclocross. This also gives him enough time to prepare for the road season.”

Van Aert will head into the spring classics next year with unfinished business.

Despite scoring marquee wins at Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel Gold Race this season, he came up short in his much-loved cobblestone races. The Belgian baller flamed out of the final selection at Tour of Flanders and finished sixth, and struggled in the mud at this autumn’s Paris-Roubaix, where he finished seventh.

Also read: Van Aert: ‘I was not good enough at Roubaix’

Van Aert will keep his road engine humming mid-cyclocross season with a whistlestop training camp in Spain early January.

“Outside the busy period in December and January, the number of [cyclocross] races is still relatively small, with the aim to complete good training sessions with a view to the road season,” Heijboer said.

Vos is likewise looking to balance her two ambitions. After already claiming two World Cup wins this autumn, the Dutchwoman will be trampling in the mud with one eye on the road season ahead.

“Marianne also has big goals early in the road season. Then you can’t escape taking that into account in this period,” Heijboer said.

Like van Aert, Vos won both Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race this spring before battling to second-place at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes last month.

Vos will team up with the newly signed American ace Coryn Labecki at Jumbo-Visma in 2022.

Trips to U.S. for ‘cross worlds remains uncertain

Marianne Vos sets off in chase of Lizzie Deignan
Vos is hopin to race the Fayetteville ‘cross worlds after focusing on World Cup CX. (Photo: Etienne Garnier – Pool/Getty Images)

Vos and van Aert are still uncertain as to whether they will be flying out to Arkanas for the ‘cross worlds January 29-30.

Concerns over fatigue from long flights and disrupted road training ahead of the “opening weekend” of the classics February 26 and 27 mean the two will only pin down their plans closer to the time.

“Whether Wout will ride the world championships is still up in the air,” Zeeman said. “We will decide about his participation after the Belgian championship.”

Vos is more hopeful of seeing a trip Stateside next January, but her attendance is still to be confirmed.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.