VAN DER POEL. “NOW AMSTEL AND ROUBAIX, THEN I LEAVE AND FOLLOW THE PINK JERSEY”

In this 2022 he had just eight days of racing, with 3 victories and an extraordinary third place. Mathieu Van der Poel proved his supremacy to everyone in eight daysmade not only of physical strength but of tactics and strategy, which have led him to be one of the most incredible strategists in cycling.

Just 16 days have passed since his return to racing, when at the Milan-Sanremo he won an incredible third place behind Matej Mohoric and Anthony Turgis. A spectacular debut in that Classicissima that doesn’t drive him crazy.

Two weeks after that placement, Mathieu returned to the Tour of Flanders to redeem the second place obtained last year, when in another two-man final, he had to hand the victory to the Dane Asgreen.

«I know the end of this race very well – declared Van der Poel yesterday at the end of the race -. I wasn’t worried about who was coming from behind, but I was thinking about my sprint together with Pogacar. I was only interested in that. ‘ Mathieu’s sprint was perfect, he had calculated in detail everything that could have happened. The race went as he had decided and, despite the excruciating pain in his legs, he completed the design he had built in his mind.

«I know every meter of the Flanders final and I knew perfectly well that there was a point where it leveled off slightly and I could recover and do what I had in mind and I did it. It was in those moments that in my head I sorted all the ideas. I’m sorry for Pogacar because I think in the end he was the strongest in the race ».

The passage over the Paterberg, the last wall, was his most difficult moment. “When we faced Paterberg my legs hurt very badly and there was a moment when I thought I could let go, but I didn’t and at that point I went straight to the end.”
Losing is not a word that the Dutchman wants to use, for him who loves perfection, racing is not lost and the only thing he wants to pursue on the road is victory. Van der Poel participated in the Ronde 4 times, the first in 2019 when, after a crash he finished fourth, in 2020 he beat his rival Van Aert in the sprint and last year, he handed the victory to Asgreen. This year, when he had decided to race, he knew he had to win.

For him, the season opened with third place at the Milan-Sanremo, which they followed the Coppi and Bartali with the success arrived in Montecatini in the fourth stage, and finally Dwars doors Vlaanderen, the Flanders appetizer.

Van der Poel injured his back in the Tokyo Games mountain bike test: after a difficult return to racing, he had to accept the idea of ​​stopping and giving up his beloved cyclocross to heal himself. “It was a difficult decision to make and I can’t say the first few days were fun. But I used this opportunity to work differently. I discovered what I didn’t know: bike-free moments throughout the year. Before my injury, my life was just cycling: I joined cyclocross with the road, then with the mountain bike and so on. For the first time I was able to prepare my return to competitions as I wanted, I had not set any goals, even if I could imagine a good recovery for the Amstel and the Ardennes. Only recently had I thought to myself that the Tour of Flanders could be feasible ».

La Ronde was another of his masterpieces, but the season has just begun for him and we will see him racing again next week. The Amstel Gold Race, the home race, will be backthe Dutch Beer Classic e then again it will be at the start of the Paris-Roubaix. Last year he raced the Roubaix for the first time and, with the third place conquered, he realized that the Queen of the Classics is also within his reach. We will not see it instead at the Brabantse Pijl and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After the Hell of the North, Van der Poel will prepare for the Giro d’Italia. This year the Dutchman intends to complete two great laps. «I want to come to the Giro because there will immediately be a chance to win the pink jersey. This is the real reason why I decided to compete in the race ».

The Giro will start this year from Hungary with a stage that will be suitable for riders like him. But also the time trial of just under ten kilometers on the second day and some climbs in the following days will be opportunities that will allow him to keep the leader’s jersey for a few days. Van der Poel will also race in the Tour de France and therefore many are wondering if he will leave the pink race, to better prepare for the Grande Boucle. «It is not an option for me to stop the tour before three weeks – the Dutchman clarified -. Actually last year I also wanted to finish the Tour but it was a different situation. I have already pointed out to the team that I will not leave after ten days of Giro. It is my intention to complete both the Tour and the Giro this year ».

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