Van der Poel defended his rainbow jersey in muddy and near sub-zero degree Celsius temperatures in Ostend, Belgium, beating his Jumbo-Visma rival Wout van Aert by 37 seconds.
Speaking via a Zoom call today, Van der Poel said he celebrated his win with “wine and pizza with my girlfriend”.
With strict Covid-19 protocols in place, Van der Poel was confined to his room post-race.
“I couldn’t go out to celebrate, so my girlfriend and I had some wine and pizza in our room.
“It was a strange vibe with no fans. It was a bit sad. Everyone just went home after the race, but I am happy to be world champion again,” Van der Poel said.
The year ahead promises to be a busy one for the multi-disciplined Alpecin-Fenix rider.
While the coronavirus pandemic may well scupper his plans, as they currently stand, Van der Poel will head to the sunshine of Spain to train for his opening stage race of the season, the UAE Tour.
In the spring, he will also defend his Tour of Flanders title and has Paris-Roubaix circled on his calendar as well.
Thereafter, the plan is to contest three mountain bike World Cup races ahead of the Tour de France and the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Van der Poel was adamant that the lure of Olympic gold in the elite men’s mountain bike race was of far greater importance to him than competing at the Tour de France.
He went as far as to suggest that the only reason he would be competing at the Tour was due to sponsorship commitments, admitting he had contemplated skipping the three-week journey around France altogether.
“For me, the Olympics is way more important than the Tour,” Van der Poel said.
“As I see my calendar now I will do three World Cups in mountain biking and I also plan a longer training camp on the mountain bike in Livigno.
“I’ll prepare myself for the Tour de France on the mountain bike. It will not be 100 per cent, but as I’ve said the Olympics are more important,” Van der Poel stressed.
He was confident that alternating between his road and mountain bike wouldn’t be a problem, even for an event of the magnitude of the Tour de France.
“When I won the Dutch national championships on the road a few years ago I almost rode my mountain bike every day in Livigno, so shape is more important for me.
“I think that switching bikes is something that I’m good at, but I need to improve my mountain bike skills because last year I rode two or three times on the mountain bike and I noticed that the feelings were not the same.
“I considered skipping the Tour. For me the best way to go to the Olympics in my top shape would mean skipping it but I think that the sponsors and the team want me to be there so I understand,” Van der Poel added.
Long-term, despite his road and mountain bike commitments, Van der Poel didn’t rule out attempting to break Belgian great Erik De Vlaeminck’s record of seven men’s Cyclo-cross World Championships titles in the 1960s and 70s.
“I’m still 26 years old, but I’m only half way to the record. But if I can stay in shape until I’m 30, then, yes, maybe I can break that record,” Van der Poel said.