Mathieu van der Poel's team has confirmed that he will be delaying his cyclocross season return further still due to knee injury.
The reigning world champion in cyclocross was due to return to the sport on Saturday, December 18, but has now been forced to delay his season debut by a week, to Boxing day (Sunday, December 26).
Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) crashed while training in a forest back in the Belgian village of Lichtaart, where he slid out and damaged his knee. Fortunately, no stitches were required but Van der Poel did have to spend a week off the bike before heading down to Spain to join his team-mates at a training camp in Spain.
Alpecin-Fenix said: "This has been decided by the rider and team management after consulting with the team’s performance and medical staff.
"The main reason for this is the healing process of his knee injury which takes longer than initially anticipated, as a result of which he has not yet been able to complete specific CX training.
"This means van der Poel will return to CX competition in Dendermonde on December 26."
This will likely be a bit of a blow for the superstar Dutch rider; if rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) continues his consistent run of form he could sweep up three wins in a row including the first ever World Cup race at Val di Sole, Italy, on the snow.
Alongside Van Aert, British Ineos Grenadiers rider Tom Pidcock has also returned to racing with a seventh and a third with the latter in Italy too.
Van der Poel has suffered a fair bit from injuries as of late with his fall at the Olympic mountain bike cross-country race seeing him hurt his back, forcing him to pull out of the mountain bike World Championships and the Benelux Tour where he was defending champion.
This also potentially hampered his shot at the Road World Championships in Leuven, Belgium where he finished eighth. He did bounce back quite well though taking third at Paris-Roubaix behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal).
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