Mathieu van der Poel Pre Flanders Chat

Mathieu van der Poel, winner in 2020 of the Tour of Flanders, is one of the favourites again for this Monument in Belgium and chatted to WielerFlits 

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Mathieu van der Poel Pre Flanders Chat

Favourites for Flanders – “I think a lot of riders can win; the latest races have shown who are the strongest. We can always name the favorites in advance, but after each race it turned out to be different. I therefore find it difficult to put predictions on results. Also for Sunday. I think there are more favorites than everyone thinks.”

Are Deceuninck-Quick-Step the team to beat? “They will certainly try, but the Tour of Flanders is sixty kilometres longer than the E3 Saxo Bank Classic (won by Kasper Asgreen). “The climbs are also more at the end. It is therefore easier to ride someone off the wheel on Sunday. It will certainly turn out to be an open race, with many teams looking to attack before the real final begins.”

Zdenek Štybar is not racing Flanders. What is Mathieu van der Poel opinion on that? “I think there is no question that Zdenek is one of their strongest riders at the moment. Especially in a race like the Ronde, with the punchy climbs. He has always been good at that. We all saw in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic that he was one of the best riders in the first group. He could certainly have done something on the bergs. I don’t know if it changes much in the Deceuninck-Quick-Step tactics, but he was certainly one of their strong riders.”

Mathieu van der Poel on Julian Alaphilippe “He is certainly one of the big competitors. Julian is someone I always pay attention to in the race. He may be a little less impressive than in 2020, but he still performs at a super high level. Of course he rides in the rainbow jersey for a reason. He is definitely one of the biggest competitors on Sunday.

Mathieu van der Poel on Peter Sagan “It depends on his condition. He has recorded a number of good results in recent weeks, but not in comparable races with the Tour of Flanders. He was certainly there in Milan-San Remo, but Sunday is a completely different race. But when he’s at his top level, you always have to keep an eye on him.”

Mathieu says of his form, “I have not yet recovered the legs from before the Italian block”, he says. Asked about Thursday and Friday, he says “I felt okay. That off day (Dwars door Vlaanderen) had to do with the first heat of the year. I was not the only one, there were a lot more people who were bothered by it. You can’t really pin anything to that. At least nothing to worry about for me. Sunday is a completely different, new race.”

“I didn’t have the best base when I started the season, but we already knew that. It was enough to stretch to Paris-Roubaix, I think. Because I immediately had a good form. However, the Italian races were quite hard and difficult. If you have to go deep a few times while your base is not great, everyone knows that you will lose something in your fitness.”

“In my last Belgian races I have not yet recovered the legs from before the block of Italian races I did. I hope I can play a significant role in the final in Flanders. If that is not the case, we have to start thinking about how we should approach this in the future. But again: I have no regrets. I am very happy with my victory in Strade Bianche, one that I really wanted to win.”

“After Tirreno-Adriatico I was a bit tired, but in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, I was a lot better. So last Wednesday, the heat played tricks on me. We did try with the team to be as good as possible in these two weeks. I myself only have the feeling that things are not going as great as in the Italian block. But maybe I’ll be back in good shape on Sunday. Yesterday and today I just rode a bit behind the moped. I will do that tomorrow too. I don’t think you can change much three days before the race.”

No Spectators: “I think the spectators does make more riders choose to attack. When you race through that wall of sound, it gives you a boost. For me, it makes a big difference that your own focus is concentrating on the pain you are suffering from so it would be nicer for me personally if I had some distraction from spectators”.

Asked how he feels as the title defender when other favorites are watching him. “I think I showed in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic that I am not afraid of losing. It is not always up to us to close all the gaps all the time. Other riders now know that it is sometimes up to them to save the race because otherwise they will not win the race anyway. It is clear to me: it is certainly not always up to us to do the chasing. ”



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