Mathieu van der Poel will return to cyclocross racing this weekend after a remarkable road season.
The star rider has been resting since early October in preparation for his return to CX, as he looks to defend his rainbow jersey early next year.
Van der Poel rode a breakthrough season on the road, winning Amstel Gold Race and the Tour of Britain among other memorable victories, and also took three major victories on the mountain bike scene.
He will make his CX return at the Telenet Superprestige Ruddervoorde race in Belgium on Sunday (November 3).
In an interview with radio programme De Tribune in Belgium (opens in new tab), the 24-year-old: “I’m in good form but I’m not at my top level yet.
“It has been a busy summer. I needed some rest myself and only wanted to return when I had an acceptable level of form. If you start the season badly, its very difficult to get it right during the season, so I wanted the basics to be in order before I started.”
The Corendon-Circus rider had a whirlwind season as he took his first WorldTour victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen and then followed up with a staggering fourth place finish in the Tour of Flanders.
Arguably the most memorable moment for Van der Poel was Amstel Gold Race in April, when he chased down the lead group single-handedly and still powered clear to take victory in the sprint.
After spending the summer racing mountain bikes, taking his three World Cup victories, he return to road racing and dominated the Tour of Britain, winning three stages and the overall.
While the Dutchman will look to defend his CX world title during the first weekend of February, his real goal is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where he is targeting mountain bike gold.
His main cyclocross rival, Wout Van Aert, is still absent from racing after his crash during the Tour de France.
Van der Poel added: “Personally, I also think it’s a shame that Van Aert is not there because he has always been my biggest competitive. But maybe I’ll find a challenge in Eli Iserbyt now. It seems that he has taken a big step.”
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