09/06/2018, cycloCross Season Preview

The Natural: Van der Poel preps for Cross season

The reigning Dutch national cross, road and XC champ heads back to his Inflite, chasing rainbow stripes in CX.

For the last year, there have been musings in cycling circles that Dutch phenom Mathieu van der Poel could perhaps be the greatest cyclist across any discipline today. Like Bo Jackson and Dion Sanders, who displayed extraordinary acumen as they moved from the NFL gridiron to Major League Baseball parks, the man simply known by his acronym MVDP can move seamlessly from a road race to cyclocross, then over to mountain biking, and serve up world-class podium results against the best within each speciality. Best cyclist today? Debatable, sure. But that debate saw holes shot in it this year.

Indeed, this summer has been a windfall for the Coredon-Circus Cycling Team team star. He holds the honor of being the one rider in the pro ranks who holds national champion titles across three of cycling’s disciplines: road, cross-country mountain biking and cyclocross. Three national jerseys, all earned by one man.

The season has truly been an embarrassment of riches for Van der Poel. Early in July, he scored victory at the Dutch road racing championships, then followed it up with a mountain bike national championship victory. Add a European road racing championship title and a second place series finish in his first full season racing the UCI World Cup cross country calendar, and it’s a season many other pros  would love to have as a full career palmares.

“It is something unique that’s fun,” he said after his most recent title at his national mountain bike championships.. "I am particularly happy with my title on the road, but this is my very first mountain bike title and I am very happy with that. I have chosen my moment today.”

With fall having arrived, the XC season wrapped and the road season nearing its end, Van der Poel turns his eyes toward his first love: cyclocross. The World Cup season kicks off in the United States, providing Americans a chance to see the wunderkind at World Cup Waterloo in Wisconsin Sept 23, followed by Jingle Cross in Iowa City, Iowa the next weekend.  

After that, the racing heads back across the pond for World Cups in Bern, Switzerland in late October, Tabor Czechloslovakia and Koksijde Belgium in November and Mol, Belgium for the World Championships, with season racing in late December in Namur and Zolder Belgium, late January in Pont-Chateau France and—perhaps poetically—wrapping up in his home country with the Jan 27 World Cup in Hoogerheide, Holland.

Will a full season of road and cross country racing against the world's best be to his advantage as he chases a second World Championship title? It remains to be seen, but if his 2018 campaign is any indicator (and with the best equipment available with his Inflite cross rig), the athletes behind him on the call-up grid are in for a long season.