WOUTmas 2020, MvdP Returns, and PiddersPalooza

In our recent compilation of Toppers, Subtoppers, and Middlers, despite some decent racing on the Elite Men’s side in the last week, it was hard not to note the absence of three riders who are probably going to force some tough choices during the second version of the rankings a month from now. Even as Eli, Toon, and Laurens have achieved some success, it is hard not to perhaps at least put a mental asterisk next to those wins with the absence of Mathieu, Wout, and Tom.

Fortunately, even though the calendar still says November, WOUTmas and PiddersPalooza 2020 are scheduled to take place a week from now. Wout returns on Saturday at Urban Cross in Kortrijk, and both Van Aert and Tom Pidcock will be at Sunday’s World Cup Tabor.

Cowbells will be ringing and thoughts dashing through the mud the Man of 2020 in the cycling world and one of the sport’s top young talents make their 2020-21 cyclocross debuts.

Thus far in his cycling career, Van Aert has been a mainstay during the cyclocross season, but last year, we celebrated WOUTmas for the first time as the man with perfect hair made his ‘cross comeback less than 6 months after suffering a devastating leg injury at the 2019 Tour de France.

This year, Wout’s return is highly anticipated, but for a different reason. Despite what some ill-informed podcast hosts might say, 2020 has been the YEAR OF WOUT, with the young Belgian star winning monuments and Tour stages and crushing Tour de France winner’s souls on mountain stages. With Wout’s success comes the hope that the Belgian star can at least put a damper on Mathieu van der Poel’s historic run of cyclocross dominance.

In recent years, as one Cyclocross Radio Media Pit host noted in our Topper Chart, Van der Poel has been the ultimate Topper. The Dutch uber-star has won 98% of his last 50 races and has taken home the last two world championships. Very few, if any, of those races were ever even in dispute.

With Van der Poel scheduled to make his 2020 cyclocross debut in mid-December, past history would suggest conversations such as the following are soon to follow.

*Van der Poel attacks and gets a 6-minute gap during call-ups*

Person 1: This is boooooooring.

Person 2: Why do you hate America?

Person 1: Lol whut? Van der Poel is Dutch.


Where have you gone Wout van Aert? Cyclocross nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Last year, I argued that cyclocross needs Wout because of his star power and his outside shot at being competitive with MvdP’s dominance. The Elite Women have been doing their part in delivering compelling racing this season, but in the face of Van der Poel’s dominance, the men have kind of been dropping the ball in recent years. I think I am not speaking out of turn in saying I am hopeful that Wout can at least contribute to knocking Van der Poel’s winning percentage down to a mere, IDK, 90%?

Cyclocross needs Wout. It’s kind of a fact. © Bill Schieken

Next weekend is exciting not only for WOUTmas but also for … I don’t have a good seasonal pun for Tom Pidcock making his debut, so we’ll just go with PiddersPalooza for now.

Last winter while Wout was grinding out his heroic comeback, British phenom Tom “Pidders” Pidcock was slowly working his way up the Elite ranks, capping his impressive season with a silver medal at Worlds. Pidcock has been in the limelight since he won Junior Worlds at Bieles, and last year, he made the leap to the Elites after crushing Eli Iserbyt’s soul at Bogense Worlds in his second year as a U23.

Pidcock enters his 2020-21 ‘cross campaign as a professional rider who has really flourished in these UNCERTAIN TIMES. Pidders won the Baby Giro GC and then for kicks and grins, won the eMTB World Championship and the U23 World Championship just because he can.

I don’t have a compelling full blog post about it, but I think there is a strong argument that cyclocross needs Pidders and needs Pidders to be good. Readers with more knowledge of cyclocross history than me can fill in the blanks here, but Pidcock is the most promising ‘cross talent from the Anglosphere since ___________, and not only is he an exciting athlete, he also has the ability to disrupt the Belgian and Dutch dominance of Elite Men’s cyclocross. Think of him as Uber, but for cyclocross. DISRUPTION.

Pidders was scheduled to make his debut on Sunday at Merksplas, but he made the decision to bump his ‘cross debut back to next weekend’s World Cup Tabor. Bold move going up against WOUTmas, but hey, the Pidders has never been wanting for confidence.

Tom Pidcock at the UCI World Cup Namur
Cyclocross could also use MOAR Pidders. © Ethan Glading

All of this talk about Wout and Pidders is, of course, wishful thinking until they prove they can go toe-to-toe with Mathieu van der Poel. Again, I may have mentioned it, but Van der Poel has won 49 of his last 50 races. (Without looking, what is the one race since the 2018 Koppenbergcross that Van der Poel did not win?)

Van der Poel had a relatively low-key summer, winning some races but largely taking a back seat to the YEAR OF WOUT. He beefed with Wout a bit at Gent-Wevelgem, and that was fun. And even though it was the YEAR OF WOUT, Van der Poel outsprinted Van Aert at the Tour of Flanders to deny the Belgie the win in like the biggest Belgie road race of them all, because of course.

There is not much else to say about Van der Poel’s return to cyclocross. He is very good, and he will probably continue to WIN ALL THE RACES. It would certainly be interesting if Van Aert and/or Pidders could match his pace for at least the first IDK 40 minutes of races this season, but recent history still suggests we will be seeing a lot of MvdP SMASH.

Chances are good we will see a lot of MvdP SMASH this winter. © Bill Schieken

WOUTmas 2020, MvdP SMASH, and PiddersPalooza

While time is more of an abstract concept than an actual thing in 2020, believe it or not, it is late November and the above-mentioned triumvirate of MvdP, Wout, and Pidders are getting set to make their respective 2020 debuts.

Next weekend, some people will be shopping or whatever, but cyclocross fans will likely be celebrating the November arrival of WOUTmas. As of right now, Van Aert has announced a cyclocross schedule that includes eight races. He is scheduled to make his debut on Saturday at Urban Cross in Kortrijk on Saturday, November 28. He recently announced he will also be pulling a Neon Deion and hopping a private jet to race the next day at the first World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic.

The rest of Wout’s schedule, for now, includes three other Potty / Ducky Cross races, Superprestige Boom, Belgie Nats, and the World Championships, where one assumes he will earn a spot on the Belgian team.

Van der Poel is being gracious in letting Wout and Pidders go through their paces before unleashing his rainbow stripes on the cyclocross world. The Dutch mega-star has released a schedule that features a debut on Saturday, December 12 at Scheldecross in Antwerp. The rest of his schedule includes a smattering of series races capped by Dutch Nattys and Worlds, where he will be going for his fourth Elite rainbow jersey.

Pidders has the most robust cyclocross schedule planned, with 13 (for now) races currently on his calendar. He is scheduled to kick his season off next weekend at World Cup Tabor. From there, he is planning to race a bunch of Potty Cross, Superprestige, and World Cup races before racing Worlds and the British National Championships, if they happen.

The riders’ full schedules, as of publication, are below. Like the ever-shifting UCI calendar, it seems as if these are subject to change.

Wout van Aert's 2020-21 Cyclocross Schedule

SaturdayNovember 28Urban Cross Kortrijk
SundayNovember 29World Cup Tabor
SundayDecember 6Superprestige Boom
WednesdayDecember 23X20 Trophy Harentals
FridayJanuary 1X20 Trophy Baal
SaturdayJanuary 9Belgie Nats Meulebeke
SaturdayJanuary 23X20 Trophy Hamme
SundayJanuary 31World Championships Oostende

Mathieu van der Poel's 2020-21 Cyclocross Schedule

SaturdayDecember 12Scheldecross
SundayDecember 20World Cup Namur
WednesdayDecember 23X20 Trophy Harentals
WednesdayDecember 30Ethias Cross Bredene
FridayJanuary 1X20 Trophy Baal
SaturdayJanuary 9Dutch Nats Zaitbommel
SaturdayJanuary 23X20 Trophy Hamme
SundayJanuary 31World Championships Oostende

Tom Pidcock's 2020-21 Cyclocross Schedule

SundayNovember 29World Cup Tabor
SundayDecember 6Superprestige Boom
SaturdayDecember 12X20 Trophy Antwerp
SundayDecember 13Superprestige Gavere
SundayDecember 20World Cup Namur
SaturdayDecember 26Superprestige Zolder
SundayDecember 27World Cup Dendermonde
WednesdayDecember 30Ethias Cross Bredene
FridayJanuary 1X20 Trophy Baal
SundayJanuary 3World Cup Hulst
Sat/SunJanuary 8/9British Nationals
SundayJanuary 24World Cup Overijse
SundayJanuary 31World Championships Oostende

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