Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took her second victory in a week in round three of the Cyclocross World Cup 2021-22, her last race before taking a well-deserved break.

Vos and Van Aert will race a packed CX program to prepare for road Classics

Jumbo-Visma pair Marianne Vos and Wout van Aert will return to the mud and sand of cyclocross in December to prepare for the Spring Classics.

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Marianne Vos, Wout van Aert and Team Jumbo-Visma have finally announced the pair’s winter cyclocross program after an extended off-season break. 

Vos will make her return in Val di Sole on December 12, two months after opening the 2021-22 CX calendar with two wins from three in the first World Cup races of the season over in the US. She’s due to race seven events up to the Hoogerheide World Cup on January 23, and is seriously considering making the trip to the Fayetteville World Championships a week later. 

Van Aert meanwhile, will make his debut appearance of the 2021-22 season in Belgium on the first weekend of December, kicking off a busy program of twelve races in five weeks.

Both of Jumbo-Visma’s multi-disciplinary superstars will no doubt leave their marks on all the races they enter, but there’s a long view in play and bigger targets to consider.

“The cross program is part of a bigger picture, and plays a role in service of the road season,” said Jumbo-Visma head of performance Mathieu Heijboer. “Outside the busy period in December and January, the number of races is still relatively small, with the aim to complete good training sessions with a view to the road season.”

The awe-inspiring moment Wout van Aert sealed his 2020-21 Cyclocross World Cup overall title with victory in Overijse, Belgium.

Van Aert won the 2020-21 World Cup title at the start of this year, finishing the ’cross calendar with second in the World Championships – behind Mathieu van der Poel who is likely to open his 2021-22 season in Rucphen, December 18 – before making his first 2021 road appearance at Strade Bianche five weeks later (also won by MVDP, who’d started on the road with a win at the UAE Tour in February).

The Belgian national champion took victory at Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold this spring, but arguably his biggest results of this season waited until the Tour de France, after he’d recovered from appendicitis.

“We’ve been puzzling over Wout’s cross and road program in recent weeks,” said Jumbo-Visma men’s sport director Merijn Zeeman. “Wout has had a good vacation and during which he was able to rest and relax a lot. 

“As everyone knows, Wout is very passionate about cyclocross and enjoys the sport immensely,” Zeeman continued. “This year, we have chosen to ride the more clustered races to reach a high level in cyclocross. This also gives him enough time to prepare for the road season.”

With the beloved ‘Opening Weekend’ as close as February 26-27, the ’cross World Championships at the end of January remain a point of contention for Van Aert and Jumbo-Visma, with concerns about recovery and all that’s involved in transatlantic travel. It’s perhaps worth pointing out that Marianne Vos managed a brilliant World Cup week on US soil just eight days after coming second at Paris-Roubaix, but maybe it’s harder in the other direction…

“Whether Wout will ride the World Championships is still up in the air,” Zeeman said. “We will decide about his participation after the Belgian championship [January 9].”

Vos is a rider with a very similar character to her male teammate – it’s uncanny, in fact: both kicked off 2021 on the road with Strade Bianche before winning Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold a few races later – and will be targeting an equally busy Spring Classic campaign in 2022.

“Marianne also has big goals early in the road season,” Heijboer said. “Then you can’t escape taking that into account in this period.”

Vos on her way to round two World Cup victory in Iowa City in mid-October.

Marianne Vos’s cyclocross schedule:

December 12 – Val di Sole World Cup
December 18 – Rucphen World Cup
December 26 – Dendermonde World Cup
January 2 – Hulst World Cup
January 9 – Dutch Championship, Zaltbommel
January 23 – Hoogerheide World Cup

Wout van Aert’s cyclocross schedule:

December 4 – Superprestige Boom
December 5 – Antwerp World Cup
December 11 – Essen, Ethias Cross
December 12 – Val di Sole World Cup
December 26 – Dendermonde World Cup
December 27 – Superprestige Heusden-Zolder
December 29 – Superprestige Diegem
December 30 – Loenhout, X20 Trofee
January 1 – Baal, X20 Trofee
January 2 – Hulst World Cup
January 5 – Herentals, X20 Trofee
January 9 – Belgian Championships

We’ll likely have to wait until after Christmas to enjoy a duel between Van Aert and Van der Poel, as shown here at CX World Cup Dendermonde on December 27, 2020, a bout won by Van Aert.

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