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by Dane Cash
September 15, 2020
Photography by Cor Vos
Mathieu van der Poel will not race the 2020 UCI Road World Championships. The 25-year-old Dutchman, who picked up his first WorldTour win of the season on Sunday’s stage 7 at Tirreno-Adriatico, will skip Worlds as he focuses on his other objectives for the rest of the season.
“Together with the coaches, we decided that the circuit is too hard for me,” van der Poel said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “There is an altitude gain of almost 5,000 meters. I prefer to concentrate on the objectives that follow, which in October will be, above all, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.”
This year’s World Championships will take place in Imola, Italy, at the end of this month after initial plans to hold the event in Aigle and Martigny, Switzerland, were called off due to coronavirus restrictions there. Despite the change in venue, however, the UCI committed to keeping the road race a climber-friendly affair, and recently unveiled a course with even more vertical gain than that seen at Innsbruck Worlds in 2018.
That being the case, van der Poel is opting to focus on his build-up to the Classics. With the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021, van der Poel’s biggest objectives on the calendar for the rest of the year are the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He rode to fourth last year at Flanders, while this year will mark his Roubaix debut.
Van der Poel is currently working his way into form for what will be a very busy October.
“It’s not by chance that I’ve gone on the attack and been in front a lot at Tirreno,” he said. “It’s all work that will be useful.”
While van der Poel focuses his efforts elsewhere, the Dutch men’s team at Worlds will look to Tom Dumoulin this year. The Dutch squad was unveiled on Monday with Dumoulin leading the way for the men’s road race in addition to being a contender in the time trial. National coach Koos Moerenhout had originally planned to take a dual leader approach in the race with Bauke Mollema also playing a featured role, but Mollema will miss Worlds after suffering a compound wrist fracture at the Tour de France.
Dumoulin will be supported by Robert Gesink, Antwan Tolhoek, Pascal Eenkhoorn, Dylan van Baarle, Pieter Weening, Sam Oomen, and Martijn Tusveld on the road in Imola while Jos van Emden will join him in starting the TT.