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by Dane Cash
February 28, 2020
Photography by Cor Vos
Mathieu van der Poel will miss planned starts at this weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne due to the flu, his Alpecin-Fenix team has announced.
Van der Poel, who got his season underway last week, had been slated to make his first career appearance in the “Opening Weekend” races, but he came down with a “high fever starting Wednesday night,” according to his team.
For now, the 25-year-old Dutchman is next slated to race in Italy, with Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo both on his expected program, although the coronavirus outbreak has led to uncertainty over whether events there will go on.
Van der Poel’s own status, and when he will be back in racing shape, is also unclear for now.
Van der Poel or no, the Alpecin-Fenix team will send seven riders to the Omloop on Saturday looking to continue what has already been an excellent start to the season for the squad; Dries De Bondt took the team’s first road win of the year on stage 3 of the Etoile de Bessèges, and Tim Merlier then won stage 4 of the Tour of Antalya.
The Alpecin-Fenix starting seven for the Omloop includes De Bondt, Kristian Sbaragli, Floris De Tier, Senne Leysen, Petr Vakoc, Otto Vergaerde, and Scott Thwaites.