Analysis: Why Van Der Poel Isn't Racing Koppenbergcross

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Reigning World Cyclocross Champion Mathieu van der Poel has released his cyclocross schedule for the month of November, and it bears disappointing news.

The eight event schedule is glaringly absent of the opening event in the DVV Trofee series, Koppenbergcross, which will be broadcast live and on-demand on FloBikes, Friday at 7:45 CDT.

The absence of Koppenbergcross is confusing, as Van der Poel previously stated he would make the DVV series the focus of his 2019-20 cyclocross campaign.

Van der Poel balances three different disciplines, and made winning the UCI Road World Championships a focus of his fall season (a feat he nearly pulled off, before bonking spectacularly and dropping out of the winning breakaway).

Because the Dutch prodigy required a mental and physical break following Road Worlds to recover from a grueling and highly successful road and mountain bike season, he missed the opening three races in the UCI Cyclocross World Cup, as well as the Superprestige series— effectively taking him out of contention for those series, overall.

The traditionally late start of the DVV Trofee series with Koppenbergcross on Friday, Nov. 1 potentially fit well with Van der Poel's desire to start the cyclocross season on race winning form. However, Van der Poel said the race's parcours would prove too "heavy" as his first cross race of the season, and he has instead opted to line-up at the Superprestige Ruddervorde on Sunday.

This is a disappointing decision, certainly, for cyclocross and Van der Poel fans. But it's an understandable one, considering the breadth of the Dutchman's racing schedule.

Other than his impressive 2017 victory at Koppenbergcross, Van der Poel has otherwise struggled on the iconic cobbled climb outside of Oudenaarde, Belgium. In 2018, Koppenbergcross was one of only two cyclocross races that Van der Poel failed to win.

Because the DVV series is time based, Van der Poel lost nearly five minutes to 2018 Koppenbergcross winner Toon Aert's in the overall standings. Yet, Van der Poel gained enough time in winning the remaining seven races in the series to overtake Aerts for the overall victory. 

Van der Poel will cede five minutes in the overall standings of the 2019-20 DVV series by failing to start Koppenbergcross. Though he may well recover that time loss by the final race.

According to the schedule released by Van der Poel, he will first compete in the DVV Trofee series at Flandriencross, in Hamme, Belgium on Nov. 17. His first appearance on a FloBikes broadcast will come on Nov. 11 at the Rectavit Jaarmarktcross race in Niel.

Side Note: FloBikes' cyclocross content and commentary team (Ian Dille, Michael Sheehan and Jonny Sundt) will grow their facial hair for the entirety of Van der Poel's cyclocross season, until he loses a race or the 2020 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. Join us by tagging your own facial hair images with the hashtag #vanderbeard on social media.

Van der Poel's November Cyclocross Schedule:

Sunday, November 3: Telenet Superprestige, Ruddervoorde

Sunday, November 10: UEC European Championships, Silvelle

Monday, November 11: Rectavit Jaarmarktcross, Niel

Saturday, November 16: UCI World Cup, Tabor

Sunday, November 17: DVV Trofee, Flandriencross, Hamme

Saturday, November 23: Ambiancecross, Wachtebeke

Sunday, November 24: UCI World Cup, Koksijde

Saturday, November 30: DVV Trofee, Kortrijk

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