Mathieu van der Poel expects that he will have more nerves at the cyclocross world championships than during the last cycling world championships on the road. The Dutchman is considered the top favorite for the world title in the field on Sunday in Dübendorf, Switzerland.

"I am looking forward to this World Cup very relaxed. I am not getting nervous yet, but it is different from other competitions. I do have healthy nerves on the day of the cross", said 25-year-old Van der Poel in conversation with Het Laatste Nieuws .

According to the reigning world champion, the start at a road race does not matter. "But in the field. More factors play a role, such as the material. In that respect, I am a little more nervous for a cyclocross world championships than a road championships on the road."

"Whether I stand out? If you look at the course of the season, maybe that is true. But that has been the case in recent years. Wout van Aert, my biggest competitor, has just returned from an injury. So in that respect I am I am the top favorite again, yes. "

Mathieu van der Poel took the world title in Bogense last year. (Photo: Getty Images)

"Even the sprint can be a weapon"

Van der Poel is going to compete in Switzerland for his third world title: the triple European champion was also the strongest at the World Cup in 2015 and 2019. Van der Poel has not yet explored the course in Dübendorf.

"That does not happen until Sunday morning. As I do with other crosses. It would be pretty tough, I told myself. I expect that it can change in view of the weather. As I can estimate at this moment, Toon Aerts will be my biggest rival, "says Van der Poel.

It is not necessary for Van der Poel to take the initiative in the race right from the start. "I can safely wait until halfway, as I have done so many times this season. Or even until the end. I hope it doesn't come to a sprint. But even that can be a weapon."

The men's competition starts on Sunday at 3 p.m. The women will come into action on Saturday at 3 p.m.