If followers have not had sufficient of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) going head-to-head after Sunday’s UCI Cyclocross World Championships, they’re going to have alternatives to see the 2 riders marking every others’ each transfer in at the very least 4 of the Spring Classics.
Each riders will begin their 2023 street seasons in Strade Bianche on March 4. Van Aert gained the race in 2020 when it was postponed to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however Van der Poel claimed the victory in 2021 after getting away with Julian Alaphilippe and Egan Bernal.
Neither rider competed final season in Strade Bianche when Tadej Pogačar (UAE Workforce Emirates) soloed for 50km to the victory. Nonetheless, Van der Poel mentioned he was concentrating on the race once more this yr.
The Van Aert/Van der Poel rivalry extends again to their junior years, and there’s little to point it will likely be letting up anytime quickly.
After besting Van Aert in Hoogerheide, Van der Poel mentioned, “I believe if you happen to take considered one of us two away, then it makes the races much less fascinating for positive.”
“It’s higher already for a few years of cyclocross and the street, there’s at all times respect between us. Perhaps you don’t recognize it typically whenever you get overwhelmed, however after our profession, it will likely be one thing particular to look again on.”
Van Aert was extra succinct, posting a photograph of him racing with Van der Poel on Sunday on social media with the remark, “I hate it however I like it 🥲”.
Their love-hate relationship will proceed after Strade Bianche in Milan-San Remo, a race that Van Aert additionally gained in 2020. Van der Poel’s finest consequence was third final yr behind solo attacker Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious).
Their subsequent assembly comes within the Tour of Flanders – a race that Van der Poel claimed in 2020 by beating Van Aert in a a lot nearer dash than in Hoogerheide. He gained once more final season whereas Van Aert was out with COVID.
Their closing conflict of the Spring Classics comes at Paris-Roubaix, a race that neither of them have gained however which each covet. Van der Poel completed on the rostrum in 2021 in third behind Sonny Colbrelli, whereas Van Aert gained the dash for second final yr behind solo escapee Dylan van Baarle (Ineos).
Each riders are resulting from race the Tour de France, albeit with very completely different roles. Van der Poel could have free rein on the head of a group with out a GC chief, whereas Van Aert will doubtless reprise his twin position of inexperienced jersey contender and super-domestique for the defending champion Jonas Vingegaard.
It is not all concerning the two cyclocross titans, nevertheless. Tom Pidcock (Ineos) throws his hat into the ring for Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, and the Tour of Flanders. The Briton sat out the Cyclocross World Championships after injuring his knee in a wild crash on the GP Sven Nys on New 12 months’s Day.
Julian Alaphilippe, whose 2022 Classics marketing campaign was ruined by crashes in Strade Bianche and the extra severe fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège is concentrating on the Tour of Flanders this yr, a race he was in prime rivalry to problem Van Aert and Van der Poel for in 2021 till a collision with a race bike crashed him out. He can even compete in Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo.
Pogačar, in the meantime, will attempt to disrupt the rivalry at Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders.
Additional down the contenders’ listing, Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) has devoted his season to the Spring Classics after touchdown on the rostrum at Tour of Flanders final yr and can make his debut in Strade Bianche earlier than attempting to raised that lead to Oudenaarde.
Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) will attempt to show he is the same as the ‘vans’ at Strade Bianche, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), who made historical past as the primary Black African winner of Gent-Wevelgem, will compete in Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix along with defending that title.
If the Cyclocross Worlds was any indication, the Classics season shall be one for the ages.