Mathieu van der Poel: Olympics The Goal

After his fourth World Cyclo-Cross title, Mathieu van der Poel looks ahead to a season mix of road racing and mountain biking with the Olympics the big goal

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Mathieu van der Poel: Olympics The Goal

After his fourth World Cyclo-Cross title, Mathieu van der Poel looks ahead to a season mix of road racing and mountain biking with the Olympics the big goal

Speaking to the press, Mathieu van der Poel says he will be back to race cylocross at the end of the year as he did this winter racing 10 to 15 events with the big aim the World Championships in the USA.

He celebrated the world title won on Sunday at home with his girlfriend Roxanne in an unassuming way; with a pizza. “That’s how it goes in corona times. It felt weird indeed. Just like it felt strange in Ostend without an audience or family. After the press conference and the doping control, I drove home and that was it.”

His fourth world title was not the most memorable according to Van der Poel. “Winning a World Championship is always special, but the first one in Tabor remains the best. On the other hand, the one in Bogense (2019) was also special. After three years of not winning, the pressure was immense unlike yesterday in Ostend. Rarely have I lived so calmly towards a World Championship. I also feel that I can peak better and better.”

Van der Poel also sees Wout van Aert’s bad luck as a small blemish on his triumph. “Of course punctures are part of our sport, but you don’t wish it on anyone. Yes, it helped me yesterday, but I would rather have won without that flat tire. It was a different competition anyway. On the other hand… I have also had my share of bad luck in the past.”

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Asked how motivating those duels with Van Aert are, he replies “I have said several times, we have both taken each other to a higher level. Our duels have become a story in themselves and even transcend the sport. They benefit both me and Wout. We continue to push our boundaries. Look at what Wout achieved in the Tour last year. It is only good that we keep discovering new things.”

Van der Poel’s palmeres now stands at four world titles in cyclocross as an elite. With that he equals Roland Liboton and is gradually reaching the record of Erik De Vlaeminck, who won the rainbow jersey seven times. Van der Poel emphasizes that he is not saying goodbye to cyclocross. “Ten, fifteen races per winter with the focus on the World Championships. That’s how I did it this year and I want to keep doing that in the coming years. Certainly until my thirtieth.”

“It’s just pure fun, that racing and it breaks up winter. It is so much more fun than having to train for hours and hours. And it can be done without stress. I have nothing more to prove and I can calmly look forward to that title fight.”

If it is up to Van der Poel, he’ll be in Fayetteville (USA) next year too. “I haven’t thought about it yet, but I will do that World Championship in America, yes. Those seven from De Vlaeminck? I’m not working on that yet, but in the long run it could become a goal. However, I realize that I still have a long way to go for that. ”

Van der Poel is now taking a week’s rest, although he seems to have little need for it. “I feel really fresh. I noticed that on my training camp. After the Tour of Flanders, I didn’t touch a bike for two weeks and then built it up quietly. For me, the road season can begin. I look forward to it especially now that corona is dominating our lives. There are no restaurants open, we cannot see friends. Cycling is my only activity. Maybe I’ll be on the road with the dirt bike sometime…”

The schedule is UAE Tour followed by Strade Bianchi and Milan-San Remo, with perhaps Tirreno Adriatico in between although that has not yet been confirmed. And after the Flemish spring, with a focus on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, he starts a mountain bike block.

“There are currently (if they continue) three World Cups and a longer training camp in Livigno on the program. All to be ready for the Games.” Training camp in Livigno takes place in the run-up to the Tour de France. “Everyone knows how important the Olympics Games are to me. I even considered skipping the Tour de France. But I realize that this is not possible for the sponsors, so I accept it.”

“It’s the sponsors who pay my wages, so a little water with the wine every now and then won’t hurt. I have to say that I already get a lot of freedom from the team. For example, I can combine three disciplines. And riding the Tour is not a punishment either. But hey, I just have Tokyo in my head. Hence the camp on the mountain bike in June. I need that and it works. I’m not bad at switching disciplines. I already became Dutch road champion in Hoogerheide after a MTB camp.”

Whether he will finish the Tour de France has not yet been decided. “That was certainly the plan but if they tell me that risks not being in top shape in Tokyo, I will consider getting out earlier.”


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