Mathieu van der Poel fires warning shot to his rivals after dominant World Cup win

‘There’s still work to do’ says Van der Poel as he threatens top level is still to come

Mathieu van der Poel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel fired a huge warning shot to his cyclo-cross rivals this winter after a bestial performance in the Hulst World Cup round in the Netherlands on Sunday.

The Dutchman looked to be in terrifying shape as he stormed to victory, with his closest competitor being current world champion Tom Pidcock.

When a broken wheel eventually forced Pidcock out of the race, there would only be one winner. Despite slipping into the course tape on two separate occasions, Van der Poel still took a resounding win on his return to cyclo-cross action.

After coming across the line, Van der Poel sent an ominous message to his rivals as he threatened that he still feels that his best shape is yet to come.

“I’m really happy with my shape. Technically, I made a lot of mistakes but it’s normal,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back, but there’s still some work to do to be at my top level. I can only be really happy with today,” Van der Poel added.

Even with his sensational performance in Hulst, Van der Poel explained that he’s aiming to reach his absolute best in the races which make up his December programme.

“I need a few more cyclo-cross races, my shape is really good, I had a good preparation in Spain but I need some more specific training on the cross bike. I hope during the December period to reach my top level,” Van der Poel said.

The four time cyclo-cross world champion ended his cross’ season early last winter after a back complaint continued to cause him issues. Van der Poel finished as runner up to arch rival Wout van Aert in Dendermonde but would finish his season early due to injury.

After taking his 146th elite cyclo-cross victory, Van der Poel explained that it was a relief to be back in cross’ action and winning races.

“It feels pretty good. It’s been a long while since I’ve won a cyclo-cross race. Last year was not a good season, I can’t even call it a season because I did just one and a half cyclo-cross races due to my back issues,” he said. “For me in cyclo-cross it's been a really long time.”

Van der Poel’s last cyclo-cross victory was the 2021 world title which he won in Ostende, Belgium.

Next week sees the hotly anticipated return of Wout van Aert to cyclo-cross action. Van der Poel and Pidcock will both face the Belgian at the World Cup round in Antwerp before going up against each other on several occasions during the Christmas period.

Van Aert recently explained that dethroning Tom Pidcock as cyclo-cross world champion was one of his big aims of early 2023.

In an interview with Het Laatse Nieuws, Van Aert said that with the worlds being held in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, participating made sense. 

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