Preview X2O Trophy Herentals 2023 | Rainbows Van der Poel and Van Empel for unique achievement! Cycling

Preview X2O Trophy Herentals 2023 | Rainbows Van der Poel and Van Empel for unique achievement!

Preview X2O Trophy Herentals 2023 | Rainbows Van der Poel and Van Empel for unique achievement!

For the second time this year, the X2O Trophy cross in Herentals is on the schedule. While the battle between Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert took center stage on Tuesday, January 3, this time the Dutchman is paired with Tom Pidcock for the first time this winter. shines bright on both of them!

Herentals boasts a rich history in cyclocross, evident with notable figures like Paul Herygers, Erwin Vervecken, Bart Wellens, and Van Aert, who were born there. Van Aert, in particular, secured victories in the first two editions of his hometown cross and animated last winter's race until a flat tire dashed his plans in the final lap. However, he won't be present at the end of 2023 for the first time, as the Jumbo-Visma rider is on a training camp in Spain with his road team.

Who will be in the spotlight? Van der Poel, in the hometown of his managers Philip and Christoph Roodhooft. The Dutchman from Alpecin-Deceuninck, who already triumphed in the lion's den earlier in 2023, surprisingly announced last Sunday that he would be present six days earlier than expected. Pidcock is also making his debut this winter, primarily focusing on the road season.

Latest winners X2O Trophy Herentals

2022/2023 Mathieu van der Poel / Puck Pieterse
2021/2022 Wout van Aert / Lucinda Brand
20/2021 Wout van Aert / Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado

Course, weather and times X2O Trophy Herentals 2023

The total circuit in Herentals is 3,300 meters long, with most of it covering the Sport Vlaanderen domain. At the heart of the circuit is the Skiberg: a 21-meter-high hill that riders must conquer twice per lap. As the name implies, in the past, this area allowed for recreational skiing. However, in 2023, the Skiberg primarily serves as an obstacle for mountain bikers. The descent from this hill can be quite spectacular, as we've witnessed in recent seasons.

Starting off, the riders venture into Netepark to tackle the flatter part of the circuit. They then pass in front of the sports hotel, cross an athletics track, and head towards the Skiberg, conquering it twice. Following a second loop through Netepark and a technical stretch through the forest, they reach the finish line.

Preview X2O Trophy Herentals 2023 | Rainbows Van der Poel and Van Empel for unique achievement!

For the past few weeks it has been raining heavily in the Low Countries, but heading into Saturday it seems to stay nice and dry. This is necessary too, as the ground in the Netherlands and Belgium is already saturated in many places due to the heavy rainfall.

Start women: 1:45 pm
Finish women: 2:35 pm
Start men: 3:00 pm
Finish men: 4:00 pm

Favorites women X2O Trophy Herentals 2023

Fem van Empel was away for a week, but will return from sunny Spain for the cyclocross race in Herentals. If she takes the win, it will be her tenth win of the cyclocross season. Even though this is only her tenth cross!

So it's not surprising that we are putting the Jumbo-Visma lady forward as the main contender, but there are definitely other contenders. Last year's winner Puck Pieterse and Shirin van Anrooij won't be there, but we do have two winners from the first two editions on the starting list: Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Lucinda Brand;

ceylin del carmen alvarado

Brand is coming into her own after missing the first part of the season, while Alvarado suffered a recent setback with a serious illness. Corendon's Manon Bakker took advantage of that in Val di Sole, coming out on top in the Italian snow to win her first World Cup;

We also look at Annemarie Worst (Cyclocross Reds) and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), who lead the wreath of outsiders for Herentals.

Favorites women's X2O Trophy Herentals, according to

Top favorite: Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma)
Outsiders: Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Long shots: Manon Bakker (Crelan-Corendon), Annemarie Worst (Cyclocross Reds) and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal)

Favorites men X2O Trophy Herentals 2023

In the men's race, it's quite clear whom we'll be keeping an eye on this Saturday, as world champion Mathieu van der Poel makes his comeback, showcasing his rainbow jersey in the field for the first time. The Dutchman has recently had a solid training session in Spain, earning him the status of a top favorite alongside Lars van der Haar.

Van der Poel, on the verge of securing his 150th professional win as a cyclo-cross rider, is not the only road cyclist returning to the track for the first time. Teammates Gianni Vermeersch, Quinten Hermans, and INEOS Grenadiers' rider Tom Pidcock are also making their comeback here, with some attention focused on the former world champion from Great Britain. Pidcock, who hasn't spent extensive time training on his cross bike yet, leaves room for speculation regarding his performance in Herentals.

tom pidcock 2

Now, onto the men we've been discussing for weeks: Van der Haar, who recently took a week off in Mallorca and is now aiming for his first podium finish in Herentals. He will be the sole Baloise Trek Lions rider at the start, while Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal has decided to have their key players Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout join the race, as expected!

Cameron Mason (Cyclocross Reds) has also been confirmed by the organizers in the press release. He currently holds the third overall position in the X2O Trophy and will be determined to close the 45-second gap to leader Iserbyt and his pursuer, Van der Haar. Other contenders vying for a respectable position include Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Toon Vandebosch, Laurens Sweeck (Corelan-Corendon), and Jens Adams (Athletes for Hope).

Favorites men's X2O Trophy Herentals, according to

Top favorite: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Outsiders: Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions)
Long shots: Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers), Cameron Mason (Cyclocross Reds), Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon), and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal)

TV X2O Trophy Herentals 2023

The cross in Herentals can be followed from 1:30 p.m. on Sporza, but the channel Eurosport 1 and its associated online channels ( will also broadcast the cross on Saturday.

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