Van der Poel aiming to ‘peak in spring’ as cyclo-cross unbeaten streak continues in Koksijde

Van der Poel aiming to ‘peak in spring’ as cyclo-cross unbeaten streak continues in Koksijde

Nancy Gillen

Published 04/01/2024 at 17:13 GMT

Mathieu van der Poel has insisted he « can still improve » ahead of his title defence at the 2024 Cyclo-cross World Championships. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider clinched his ninth successive victory at X2O Trofee Koksijde to continue his unbeaten streak, and remains focused on next month’s World Championships. Fem van Empel earned her 14th win of the season in the women’s race in Koksijde.

X2O Trofee Koksijde highlights: Van der Poel records ninth straight victory

Mathieu van der Poel extended his unbeaten streak in the current cyclo-cross season to nine victories as he triumphed at X2O Trofee Koksijde.

The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider had time to celebrate with the crowd as he crossed the finish line one minute and 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Pim Ronhaar.

Van der Poel had launched a first-lap attack across the course’s sandy dunes, retaining his lead throughout the duration of the race.

The reigning world champion’s chances had been bolstered by the withdrawal of Tom Pidcock through illness, but Van der Poel still had Dutch compatriot Van Aert to contend with. His rival struggled with the sandy climbs, however.

Van der Poel refused to take his impressive form for granted, insisting that he could « still improve » before the Cyclo-cross World Championships in February.

Pim Ronhaar of The Netherlands and Team Baloise-Trek Lions on second place, race winner Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin-Deceuninck and Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo-Visma on third place pose on the podium ceremony after

Image credit: Getty Images

« I trained very well for the ‘cross season, but since Herentals [in mid-December] I have actually trained very little, » he said in quotes published by Velo. « I just did these ‘crosses.

« After the race on Sunday [in Zonhoven], I will go back to Spain to finalise the preparation for the cyclo-cross worlds.

« The training is still building, first to the World Championships, then to the Classics. The plan is that the peak should be in the spring. That is still the most important thing. »

It was another victory for Fem van Empel in the women’s race, with the current world champion securing her 14th win of the season.

No one was able to overtake the Visma-Lease a Bike rider after she got off to a fast start, and she finished in 52:14.

Koksidje highlights: Van Empel dominant in her 14th win of the season

Lucinda Brand and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado battled it out in a sprint finish for second place, with Brand narrowly edging it as she crossed the line 39 seconds after Van Empel.

« I’m super happy. Yesterday I made the decision to start today so I’m very happy to win, » said Van Empel.

« If you have the space to ride your own lines, you have more peace of mind. I had a gap quite quickly and then I continued at my own pace. »

There was just one negative on an otherwise perfect day for Van Empel, who fell on an already-injured knee during the third lap.

« It was on the stitched knee, so well…I’ll need some new knees at the end of the season I think, » she joked.

« No, I hope it didn’t get too much damage. I can’t see what it’s like now. I had sealed it well, but a blow can of course do a lot. We will see. »

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