Wout van Aert has said he “sometimes wonder what he’s doing to himself” by racing such a hectic schedule.
The Jumbo-Visma all-rounder was one of the biggest stars in the unpredictable 2020 season, winning Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, winning two stages in the Tour de France and podiuming the biggest races in the late season.
But rather than celebrating his success this winter, Van Aert will instead be competing at the highest level, racing through the winter in cyclocross events.
The 26-year-old will start his CX programme this weekend in Kortrijk, Belgium on November 28, following up the next day with the first World Cup event of the year in Tabor in the Czech Republic.
In interview with RedBull.com, former cyclocross world champion Van Aert said: “Sometimes I also wonder what I’m doing to myself by driving such a busy program. On the other hand, many colleagues have not planned their next goal until February or sometime in the spring, and I really couldn’t wait that long. It keeps me on my toes.”
He added that he will not be competing at his best in late November, but plans to take more time to train in December to then be at his best for the prestigious Christmas racing period.
Van Aert had a staggering seasons, not just in victory but also in his support roles for the team and his near-misses.
While taking two sprint stages for himself at the Tour, Van Aert also emerged as the strongest mountain domestique in the race while supporting leader Primož Roglič.
Into the late season Van Aert continued to thrive, taking second in both the World Championship time trial and the road race, before ending his road season with a dramatic performance in the Tour of Flanders, which saw him finish second to rival Mathieu van der Poel.
That rivalry will be reignited this winter, as reigning CX world champion Van der Poel is expected to return to competition in mid-December, in preparation for the World Championships in Ostend, Belgium, on January 31.