Mathieu van der Poel took home his fourth world title on the beaches of Oostend but the 26-year-old Dutchman is already looking ahead to what his road season will bring. His team Alpecin-Fenix received an invitation to the Tour de France as the top-ranked ProTeam of last season, but Van der Poel is unsure if he will ride all the way to the Champs Elysées in Paris. In an interview with Wielerflits Van der Poel said the Olympic mountain bike race is his top priority this summer.
“I even considered not riding the Tour de France,” Van der Poel said. “But I realize that’s not possible with our [team’s] sponsors. They are the ones who pay my salary so giving in sometimes, is okay. I must add that I get so much freedom here with three disciplines [mountain bike, road and cross] and riding the Tour de France isn’t a punishment of course. The plan is to finish the race but if they say I risk not being top shape in Tokyo [there is only eight days between the two races], I might consider leaving the Tour early.” Algemeen Dagblad mentioned the early departure might fall on the second rest day.
Van der Poel has Tokyo on his mind where he hopes to get an Olympic medal in mountain biking. He has planned to take on three cross country World Cups as well as a training camp in Livigno just before the Tour de France. “I need that and will do fine. I don’t have trouble switching because I got my Dutch national [road] title 2018 just after a [mountain bike] training camp,” said Van der Poel.
In the interview with Wielerflits, Van der Poel also looked back at the Cyclocross world championships and his fourth title. Being only 26-years young, this brings the record of seven world titles by Erik De Vlaeminck closer. Van der Poel plans on continuing racing ‘cross in the road off-season.
“The way I did it now is perfect: 10-15 races a season and then focus on the world championships. This is how I did it this year and how I want to do it at least until I am 30. I like doing cyclocross to break that long winter season. Other riders train long hours and I do races which I like. It’s fun and it gives me no stress because I have nothing to prove. Those seven world titles are not a goal when you start doing this sport but when they ever come in sight it will become a goal.”
Van der Poel is already planning on travelling to Fayetteville, Arkansas next year for his fifth chance at a rainbow jersey.
Now, with his cross season freshly behind him, Van der Poel will take a week off. Although, he feels fresh enough to skip the rest. After the forced break he will increase his endurance training and start his road season at the UAE Tour. His calendar also includes Strade Bianche and Milan-Sanremo with a potential start at Tirreno Adriatico. After some time in the sun, Van der Poel will move on to the Flemish Spring Classics with a focus on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
The real question remains, will the white shorts make an appearance again in 2021? It seems the answer will present itself soon.