Mathieu van der Poel is a five-time UCI Cyclo-cross World Champion and he’ll be hoping to take a sixth title when he lines up in Tábor, Czechia, this weekend. Of the 13 cyclocross races that Van der Poel has competed in since mid-December, he has won 12 of them, including five World Cups. He’s ridden them all on Canyon’s Inflite CF SLX.
Pics: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
According to Canyon, Van der Poel’s Inflite CF SLX frame comes in at just 940g, which is certainly impressive for a disc-brake cyclocross frame, and one of the most eye-catching features is the top tube design. The top tube runs horizontally for most of its length before kicking down to join the seat tube.
How come? The idea is to maintain space within the frame for easier shouldering while also allowing more seatpost to be exposed for extra compliance at the rear end.
The cross-specific geometry is intended to offer a blend of stability and agility, and you get clearance for tyres up to 38mm wide.
World champion stripes decorate the top of the driveside seatstay and run along the top tube.
At the front of the bike, Van der Poel opts for Canyon’s CP0015 carbon aero cockpit, (a one-piece handlebar and stem) designed to be stiff enough to hold firm during maximal cyclocross efforts. Unlike most bars, the CP0015 is width-adjustable; you can set the distance between the drops using a single tool.
Van der Poel’s Alpecin–Deceuninck team is sponsored by Shimano so he uses a full Dura-Ace Di2 Disc groupset, including C50 deep-section wheels – “the perfect blend of low weight and aerodynamic performance”, according to Shimano – and hydraulic disc brakes. Van der Poel was an early adopter of discs, 140mm rotors providing sufficient power.
The pedals are also from Shimano, this time in the form of its XTR mountain bike options. If you’re unfamiliar with the demands of cyclocross, the amount of running and dismounting of the bike means that riders use mountain bike pedals with matching shoes.
This picture and pic below: Zubiko/SWpix.com
The shoes in question are Shimano XC903s with no branding on them. That’s because, although officially announced last month, Van der Poel has been using them incognito since last September. Well, they were supposed to be incognito, but everyone clocked them immediately.
Each shoe uses what Shimano calls an Ultread XC rubber outsole with widely spaced rubber knobs that are designed to dig into mud and provide plenty of grip, and dual low-profile BOA Li2 dials. Shimano claims a weight of 290g per shoe (size 42). White might not be the most practical choice for cyclocross but it gets you style points. If someone else is doing the cleaning, why not?
Van der Poel uses a Selle Italia Flite Boost saddle with carbon rails and more world champion stripes.
Although it has ‘Canyon’ daubed in big letters across the side, Van der Poel’s bike helmet is an Abus Gamechanger, designed to be aerodynamically efficient while providing plenty of ventilation.
We were super impressed when we reviewed this model, calling it "Cool, stylish and comfortable".
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.