For over a decade, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel have locked horns in cyclo-cross races across Europe. The duo first met in the under-19 ranks, and have battled in one of the sport’s biggest rivalries ever since.
On Monday, the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider announced his winter program for the 2022-2023 season, which will see him compete in 14 cyclo-cross races – seven of which he’ll share with Van Aert.
Their first encounter will come in Antwerp on 4 December, one week after Van der Poel makes his season debut at this Sunday’s World Cup event in Hulst.
The pair will then join their respective road teams for their winter training camps, before returning to the mud for an intense festive period.
From 23 December, Van der Poel and Van Aert will compete against each other five times in the space of a week. Both riders share an identical program for this period, with race participations expected in Mol, Gavere, Heusden-Zolder, Diegem and Loenhout.
Although Jumbo-Visma are yet to release Van Aert’s program for 2023, it is almost certain that the Belgian champion will line up against the Dutchman at the World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands on 5 February.
The duo, who share seven world titles between them, met just twice on last season’s cyclo-cross circuit, after Van der Poel withdrew from racing with a back injury.
Both riders have taken the start line together in 169 races since the start of their careers. Comparing their head-to-head results, the Dutchman prevails with the stronger record, having bettered his long-term rival on 115 occasions (68%).
After beginning his cyclo-cross season this past weekend, world champion Tom Pidcock will also no doubt join Van Aert and Van der Poel in a series of races this season. CyclingWeekly understands that Pidcock’s full program will develop on a week-by-week basis over the coming months, with the British rider likely to take part in between 10 and 12 cyclo-cross races this winter.
Although the final tally could be higher, below are the seven races that Van Aert and Van der Poel will both contest this season.
|4 December 2022||Antwerp (World Cup)|
|23 December 2022||Mol (Exact Cross)|
|26 December 2022||Gavere (World Cup)|
|27 December 2022||Heusden-Zolder (Superprestige)|
|28 December 2022||Diegem (Superprestige)|
|30 December 2022||Loenhout (Exact Cross)|
|5 February 2023||Hoogerheide (World Championships)|