It may be the cyclocross offseason, but many ’cross heroes are busy racing on the road and mountain bike circuits. Rumors and Rumblings is back to keep tabs on what riders are up to during #crossiscoming season. This edition looks at Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert and a recent “Beautiful Duel” they took to the road. 

It may only be May, and the mud and rain of cyclocross season are many months away, but Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank – Corendon) and Wout van Aert (Veranda’s Willems-Crelan) are already getting an early start on rekindling their rivalry for the 2017-2018 season. After World Champ Wout van Aert announced his plans to race the Spring Classics in 2018, Mathieu van der Poel decided to do his part to fuel the speculation that the “Beautiful Duel” may be moving to the road and cobbles of Europe next year.

Van der Poel joined Van Aert in a five-man break during Stage 2 of the five-stage Baloise Belgium Tour and beat Van Aert and Tour of Flanders winner Phillipe Gilbert (Quick – Step Floors) to the line in the finishing sprint. The cyclocross world champion Van Aert led the sprint out, but Van der Poel deftly used his rival as a lead out and jumped him at the end to hold off Gilbert and take the stage victory.

After the race, Van der Poel said the sprint victory on the road provided an extra jolt of excitement, “A bit hectic and hard to position yourself. Whether this is better than winning a cyclocross? If you win a ’cross, it is simply less euphoric (translated).”

Watch that sprint finish in these highlights from Stage 2 of the Baloise Belgium Tour:

Van der Poel Keeps a Busy Schedule

Van der Poel started the first two stages of the Baloise Belgium Tour after some successful off-road racing in the Czech Republic, where he took 8th place in last Sunday’s World Cup at Nove Mesto.

The young Dutchman is scheduled to go straight from the Belgium Tour on Saturday to compete in Germany at the Albstadt World Cup this coming Sunday. Folks looking to see Van der Poel at Albstadt can tune into at 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday.

Bill Schieken of caught up with the Dutch phenom after his race at Nove Mesto:

Van Aert Chases the Baloise Belgium Tour Overall Jersey

Despite dropping the Beautiful Duel sprint to Mathieu Van der Poel, Van Aert is currently the overall leader of the Baloise Belgium Tour after Friday’s Stage 3 time trial. He is 10 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, with the Ans-Ans and Tienen-Tongeren stages left to go this weekend.

Wout van Aert on a not-so-UCI-CX-legal bike:

U23 Women Cyclocross Racers Find Rematch in the Singletrack

Several cyclocross women had a successful start to the knobby tire World Cup series last Sunday as well. Evie Richards (Great Britain) exacted some revenge for the 2017 U23 Cyclocross World Championships by finishing second behind American standout Kate Courtney in the U23 Women’s World Cup race, ahead of U23 Cyclocross World Champ Annemarie Worst (The Netherlands), who took fourth.

Both U23 cyclocross stars will be starting on the front row in the Women’s U23 race in Germany.

Eva Lechner (Italy) will be lining up for the Women’s Elite race. Early-rising fans can watch the Women’s Elite race at 5 a.m. on

Have a tip on a notable result by a professional cyclocross racer? Or want an update on someone in particular? Drop a comment below or email to [email protected].