Cyclocross season builds towards grand finale

Three weekends of UCI races will culminate in the 2017 World Championships

For anyone who follows the pro cyclocross scene, the next three weekends will be spent glued to their televisions or computers.

It’s been an epic struggle all winter between the current World Champion Wout van Aert and his predecessor Mathieu van der Poel and it’s coming to a showdown.

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Van Aert’s dominance over the Belgian competition was emphasised again last weekend when he led the Belgian national championships in Ostend from start to finish, being out of sight for most of the race and beating the runner-up by almost a minute.

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Mathieu van der Poel led the 2016 Asper-Gavere cyclocross race from start to finish (Photo Watson)

Also winning his national championship van der Poel has seemingly recovered from a bad crash at the Azencross race at the end of December.

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In the early season races van Aert had the upper hand over van der Poel, but the latter then had a purple patch with van Aert seeming unable to match his pace.

More recent races have been much more evenly matched, with van Aert repeatedly coming back before finally losing out after a series of mishaps in the thrilling UCI World Cup race at Namur, then winning the next round in Heusden-Zolder convincingly.

Van der Poel and van Aert are very evenly matched (Photo Watson)

The final two rounds of the Telenet UCI World Cup are this Sunday, January 15, in Italy and the Sunday after in the Netherlands. They’re followed a week later by the World Championships in Luxembourg.

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At the start of the year, Van Aert and his Crelan-Charles team switched bike providers from Colnago to Felt, a change which seems to have suited van Aert, who has commented on how much he likes his new machine.

As for the last few seasons, van der Poel has been riding the Super Prestige from German brand Stevens.

One benefit of the UCI’s cyclocross competitions for UK followers, is that they are live streamed so you can watch the whole race in real time as well as replaying it from the UCI’s website or YouTube.

It looks like being an intriguing end to the pro cyclocross season.