In the wake of Mathieu van der Poel’s sixth Cyclocross World Championships victory and his admission that he may look to skip winter ‘cross campaigns in future, his Alpecin-Deceuninck team boss Christoph Roodhooft has said he “doesn’t see it happening right away.”
The Dutchman, who won the world title for the sixth time with a dominant ride in Tabor on Sunday, said after his victory, “If it turns out that I can perform even better on the road by skipping cyclo-cross, then I will do that.”
However, nothing has yet been decided, with Roodhooft telling WielerFlits that the issue hasn’t yet been discussed.
“As far as I know that has never been discussed. Never say never, of course, but I don’t see it happening right away,” he said in an interview after the race.
For his part, Van der Poel said he’d talk about it with his Alpecin-Deceuninck team, adding that his 2024 road programme would be decided soon.
“It’s a decision that I obviously cannot make alone,” he said after capturing the rainbow jersey. “But we will discuss it within the team. We will know more about my road programme in two weeks, but not yet about next winter.”
Roodhooft said that he was always certain that his rider would race to the win on Sunday, taking the title by 37 seconds from another Dutchman, Joris Nieuwenhuis.
“Never had any [doubts],” said Roodhooft. “I was a bit more tense than usual anyway. But I think tension is appropriate on a day like today.
“An event like the World Championships deserves that. You don’t win a race like this just like that.”
For Van der Poel, the win was his 13th in 14 races during the 2023-24 cyclocross season. His only miss came at the UCI World Cup in Benidorm last month, when he took a chicane too quickly late in the race, hitting a padded metal pole in the process and later settling for fifth place.
Despite the long list of wins – he now has 161 in total at elite level – his focus this season was entirely on the World Championships. Racking up more victories in the X20 Trofee, World Cup, and Superprestige does little for his packed palmarès compared to another rainbow jersey.
“I actually understand that statement,” Roodhooft said about Van der Poel’s declaration that his season would only be a success if he won the Worlds. “For other riders, it might be nice to win 10 or 12 times, but with him, it’s only about the World Championships.
“We’ll definitely celebrate this, but it’s also different because we’re so far from home. You prefer to celebrate these big wins with the entourage there and that’s a bit more difficult now.”