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Wout van Aert leads Mathieu van der Poel in a muddy section at the Loenhout CX race in December 2022.

The ‘Big 3’ are set to clash in cyclocross starting this weekend

With Mathieu van der Poel starting his season a week earlier than expected, Crossmas is upon us starting Saturday.

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 12.12.2023 Photography by
Kristof Ramon
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Cyclocross fans have been looking forward to the December 22 start of cyclocross racing’s “Kerstperiode,” where the sport’s “Big 3” on the men’s side – current World Champion Mathieu van der Poel and former rainbow-jersey wearers Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock – will finally see their first clashes of the 2023-2024 season. But it turns out we won’t even have to wait that long, as Van der Poel has moved up his start to Saturday, December 16, where he’ll face off against Pidcock at the X2O round in Herentals. (Van Aert started his season last Saturday in Essen.)

With Pidcock and now Van Aert officially ruling out any run at the World Championships, there are only a few weeks to catch them in action. Of course, the riders who have been racing all season – Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout, and the Baloise-Trek gang of Joris Nieuwenhuis, Lars van der Haar, Pim Ronhaar, and Thibau Nys – will also be there to greet them.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on which of the sport’s three active male riders to have won a world title will be racing where and when through this climactic month into late January. After the Benidorm World Cup on January 21, Van der Poel is the only rider of the three who will continue his season. He’ll race the X20 round at Hamme and the Hoogerheide World Cup the weekend of the 27th/28th of January, and then World Championships the first weekend in February.

On the women’s side, none of the top racers has announced a full calendar in the same way, but we expect Fem van Empel, Puck Pieterse, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, and Lucinda Brand to be active in December and January, but similarly not at all races.

Where can you watch all this goodness? As a reminder, the last race shown on GCN+ will be the Namur World Cup on Sunday. After that, viewers in the European region can find continuing coverage on Discovery+ or the Eurosport app and FloBikes has rights to World Cup coverage in the United States and Canada, and has also picked up the remainder of the Superprestige, X2O, and Exact series. That gets us through cyclocross season, but of course the road season starts in just over a month and there’s no news yet there. Yes, we’re asking about it. Yes, we’ll have an update for you later this week with everything we know, even if that’s not much.

Kit Nicholson tracked the various rider calendar announcements and updates to create the table shown here. Please note that all race schedules are subject to change. Races in bold are on weekends.

RaceDateWout van AertMathieu van der PoelTom Pidcock
X2O HerentalsDec 16XX
World Cup NamurDec 17X
Exact Cross MolDec 22XX
World Cup AntwerpDec 23XXX
World Cup GavereDec 26XXX
Superprestige Heusden-ZolderDec 27X
Superprestige DiegemDec 28XX
Exact Cross LoenhoutDec 29X
World Cup HulstDec 30XXX
X2O Baal – GP Sven NysJan 1XX
X2O KoksijdeJan 4XXX
Hexia Cross GullegemJan 6X
World Cup ZonhovenJan 7XXX
World Cup BenidormJan 21XXX

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