After two months away from racing, Mathieu van der Poel returns to motion this week as he begins his closing build-up to the Tour de France and a tilt at two rainbow jerseys on the World Championships in Glasgow.
The Dutchman final pinned on a race quantity en path to victory at Paris-Roubaix in April, and he resumes his season at Dwars door het Hageland on Saturday earlier than lining out at subsequent week’s Baloise Belgium Tour. Talking to reporters on Monday afternoon from a coaching camp at La Plagne, he outlined why he most well-liked to run by his scales in Belgium relatively than on the Tour de Suisse.
“It’s higher to go all out and attempt to win in Belgium than be within the gruppetto in Switzerland,” Van der Poel stated. “And while you issue within the time trials, I feel Suisse and Belgium is sort of the identical quantity of racing days.”
Van der Poel may have no scarcity of racing days within the weeks forward, and he confirmed that he would compete in each highway and mountain bike occasions in Glasgow through the first version of the UCI’s quadrennial, multi-discipline World Championships. The highway race takes place on August 6, with the mountain bike occasion following six days later.
Whereas a primary elite world title on the highway would be the fundamental focus of his Scottish expedition, Van der Poel is aware, too, of the necessity to begin scoring qualification factors if he’s to compete for mountain bike gold on the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games. Van der Poel was favorite for gold in Tokyo two years in the past solely to crash out of the occasion.
“We’ve talked about it right here in La Plagne. Usually, I may even do the Worlds on the mountain bike the week after the Worlds on the highway, however with none particular preparation,” stated Van der Poel.
“I’ll attempt to go there with none stress and simply attempt to adapt by using a bit on the mountain bike the week after the highway Worlds. I will probably be there anyway, so possibly one thing good can occur there. In fact, the form needs to be good from the highway Worlds, so I’ll give it a attempt to see the place it ends.”
There are solely 36 athlete spots for the cross-country race on the Olympics, with the highest eight international locations incomes two locations. The Netherlands is at the moment ranked thirty first within the standings, which places the onus on Van der Poel to race mountain bike occasions within the latter a part of the season, beginning with the Glasgow Worlds.
“It won’t be simple to get there and that’s additionally the explanation why I’m taking the prospect and going to the Worlds with none mountain bike coaching beforehand,” Van der Poel stated.
“It’s a little bit of a big gamble, however we’ve to attempt it to get the beginning spot in Paris. If I wish to go there, then for positive I’ve to go mountain biking.”
Tour de France
Van der Poel can method his summer time marketing campaign in a relaxed mind set having already triumphed in winter, when he claimed his fifth cyclocross world title, and in spring, when he landed each Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix both aspect of putting second behind Tadej Pogacar in a tumultuous version of the Tour of Flanders.
These successes appeared to vindicate the philosophy of his Alpecin-Deceuninck squad, who had privileged coaching over racing within the early season by hot-housing their Classics unit at a coaching camp in Denia, an method they’ve replicated forward of the Tour.
Such prolonged coaching camps have marked a change of tempo for Van der Poel, who had toggled between disciplines and bounced from race to race for a lot of the early a part of his profession. At 28 years of age and after nursing a again damage for the previous two years, Van der Poel has – maybe reluctantly – begun to understand the worth of such persistence.
“If it seems to achieve success just like the Spring Classics, then for positive it is good,” Van der Poel stated. “However now I am actually desperate to go racing once more. It is exhausting in the event you crash, as a result of it means you’ve got completed an extended preparation for nothing, principally. However it’s a part of fashionable biking, I suppose. I feel I really feel good with the preparation I do now. I raced already loads in my life and now I be certain that it counts once I’m on the beginning line.
“Previously, possibly we did generally a bit an excessive amount of racing, only a bit unprepared generally, going from race to race. It is good for me generally to have a superb block of coaching. I feel it additionally will get me to a special stage.”
This will probably be Van der Poel’s third Tour de France, together with his earlier two appearances ending in early withdrawals, albeit for very completely different causes. In 2021, Van der Poel claimed victory on stage 2 and held the maillot jaune for per week earlier than abandoning to organize for the Tokyo Olympics. Final yr, alternatively, the Dutchman arrived on the Tour already exhausted from his exertions on the Giro d’Italia and he pulled out on stage 11.
“I am motivated to do a superb Tour,” Van der Poel stated. “It is the primary yr I am coming in with a very good preparation, with out different issues to consider, so I am truly trying ahead to doing my greatest Tour. I feel we’ll have a robust staff.”
Regardless of his give attention to the Glasgow Worlds, Van der Poel confirmed his intention to finish the Tour, even when he insisted he wouldn’t make a goal of the inexperienced jersey.
“Paris is the final cease earlier than the Worlds. For positive it is time to end it,” he smiled. “I wish to make a superb Tour just like the Giro final yr. I do not suppose it is smart to throw an excessive amount of power away through the Tour, however for positive I will not maintain again an excessive amount of both.”