Death, taxes and Mathieu van der Poel winning bike races.
Whether it’s on the road or a muddy field somewhere in northern Europe, if the 25-year-old Dutchman starts there’s a good chance he’ll be crossing the line first.
That’s definitely been the case this cyclocross season, with Van der Poel winning eight of the 11 races he’s lined up at this winter.
His latest victory came on Sunday in the latest round of the World Cup in Hulst, the Netherlands, sailing across the finish line a minute and a half ahead of Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert, with Pidcock taking third.
It had been two wins in two days for the Alpecin-Fenix rider, after also winning Cyclocross Gullegem in western Belgium on Saturday, beating second-place Tom Pidcock by 45 seconds.
Before Hulst, the previous round of the World Cup in Dendermonde saw Van Aert take the top step of the podium, Van der Poel a distant second and left to aim criticism at a course that saw riders caught up in knee-deep mud.
This was the third time Van der Poel has finished second this season, the other two times he failed to win coming at X20 Trofee Herentals, again finishing behind Van Aert, and before that at Telenet Superprestige Gavere behind Pidcock.
Van Aert’s second place in Hulst was enough to help him retain the World Cup series lead, holding first place overall with 125 points to Van der Poel’s 110 points.
One round of the 2020-2021 World Cup remains, in Overijse, Belgium, on January 24. After that, it’s the 2021 Cyclocross World Championships on January 30-31 in Ostend, a city in West Flanders.
Van der Poel will look to defend his rainbow jersey and secure a third consecutive title to take his overall tally to four.
“If you see last week, I was almost three minutes behind Van Aert so I don’t think it means anything for the Worlds,” Van der Poel said after his victory at Hulst.
This cyclocross season has enraptured viewers thanks to the battles between Van der Poel, Van Aert and Pidcock, and all three vying for the rainbow jersey at the end of the month is a mouthwatering prospect.