Mathieu van der Poel, the reigning world champion, has wrapped up his 2023 road season ahead of schedule, prioritizing rest as he looks toward his upcoming winter cyclocross pursuits. The celebrated Dutch cyclist's decision comes after participation in five events following his illustrious win in Glasgow, sporting the coveted rainbow stripes. Although two races short of his initial plan, this means he'll be notably absent from the forthcoming Circuit Franco-Belge and the highly anticipated Paris-Tours slated for October 8.
This sudden decision was unveiled by his team, Alpecin-Deceuninck, on their Instagram platform while introducing their roster for the Circuit Franco-Belge. Replacing van der Poel in the 190km race is the swift Jasper Philipsen. "Sunday marked the close of a fruitful summer season for Mathieu van der Poel. As he basks in his well-deserved break, preparations for the cyclocross season are on the horizon," the team's post read.
Van der Poel's Road Season Dilemma
Van der Poel had earlier hinted at a possible early exit from the road scene following his fourth-place finish at the GP de Wallonie. Given his recent performance rankings, the athlete candidly expressed his skepticism about regaining peak form this road season. Sharing his sentiments with Het Nieuwsblad, he said, "Merely participating without a competitive edge doesn't resonate with me. Perhaps a breather and gearing up for the cyclocross season is more prudent. An extended hiatus would be beneficial."
Despite the reservations, the cyclist marked a memorable victory at the Super 8 Classic on September 16. He also made a showing at the Paris Olympics cross-country mountain bike test, ending in the 28th slot.
The focus now shifts to the 2023-24 cyclocross circuit. Donning the world champion's jersey, both on the road and in the mud, van der Poel's return to the cyclocross terrain is keenly anticipated. While the precise date remains under wraps, historical patterns suggest a late November or early December comeback.
Concluding his 2023 road chapter, the 28-year-old champion boasts six triumphant titles, including standout wins at Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, and the Baloise Belgium Tour. He also secures a commendable position in the UCI rankings, holding the seventh spot with a few weeks left.